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New Legacy: Kim Jones Makes His Fendi Ready-To-Wear Debut for Fall/Winter 2021

As the first model made her way through a maze of F-shaped glass cases showcasing artfully strewn Roman ruins at Fendi’s Fall 2021 runway show, a spoken word overture proclaimed, “She is here. She is here.” Indeed, Kim Jones’s hotly anticipated ready-to-wear debut for the storied Italian house had arrived. For his first foray into ready-to-wear (his prior entry was Spring 2021 couture), Jones mined the Fendi family itself for style cues. The museum-like backdrop felt apt—nodding to the past while setting the stage for the brand’s future.

First came Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda Fendi—the daughters of founders Adele and Edoardo Fendi—who installed Karl Lagerfeld as creative director in 1965 and transformed their parents’ leather boutique into the fashion heavyweight it is today. The sisters’ 1970s-era power wardrobes were reimagined through silken pinstripe shirting, spaghetti-fringed wool scarves, and a washed mink coat with bell sleeves. Tones were neutral and natural, as if to express the quiet confidence needed to helm a dynasty for the better part of a century.

Then there was Silvia Venturini Fendi, whose penchant for the utilitarian shirt jacket was elevated into a shearling version that features a bonded mink interior. Daughter of Anna, Venturini Fendi joined the family business in 1992 and inscribed herself into fashion’s history books with the creation of the famed Baguette bag. Today, she serves as the artistic director of handbags and menswear, as well as a part-time muse to Jones. “The Fendi family are women of intellect who work hard—and that’s what Kim wanted to celebrate,” says Venturini Fendi. “Kim created such a usefulness to the collection, which he explored in a chic, timeless way.” Working together on handbags for the collection, they launched “Fendi First,” the house’s newest covetable silhouette, which features an off-kilter F at the closure of clutches, ranging in size from micro to maxi. Of the style, she says, “It reflects Kim’s vision for Fendi, which is contemporary but with a storied history and savoir-faire.”

There were also shades of Lagerfeld, whose tenure lasted until his death in 2019—an honorary family member to be sure. The FF Logo monograms he designed in 1981 travelled across a chocolate silk slip dress, and were woven subtly into tights and laser-cut into a suede and leather aviator jacket. Elsewhere in the collection, an architectural Fendi First heel was inspired by one of his many archival sketches.

The fact that the women at the heart of the Fendi dynasty should be so integral to this spiritual changing of the guard is poignant. After the passing of Lagerfeld, it was their strength and tenacity that carried the house through. And in passing the torch to Jones—a British master of menswear who was appointed creative director of Fendi womenswear in 2020—it was Venturini Fendi who showed him the ropes. “It’s a story that goes on, and I like to see how it almost repeats the Fendi formula of a man designing for women while in deep conversation with the women of this family,” says Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Venturini Fendi’s daughter and the incoming artistic director for the house’s jewellery line.

For her first collection as artistic director, Delettrez Fendi introduced “Fendi O’Lock,” a new range of fineries that transform the Fendi logo into carabiner padlocks that can only be opened by dialling—what else?—“Fendi.” Wax seal pendants stamped with the FF Logo are strung from golden chains, while metal cuffs are covered in leather and embellished with details in Fendi’s signature Selleria leather. “I am interested in reshaping and reinventing the traditional codes of jewellery that, by nature, are very traditional and classic, [and] infusing them with big creativity and freedom,” says Delettrez Fendi.

As Fendi looks toward a celebration of a century since opening its first-ever boutique in 1925, there are still chapters of its legacy to be written with creativity, passion, and—above all else—family. “To me, the FF logo is not just an iconic logo, but my family crest,” says Delettrez Fendi. “It is not linked to any fashion trend or logomania; it is the emblem of a 100-year-long family history.”

Photography Garrett Naccarato at Visual DPT
Model: Cami You-Ten at Want Management
Fashion Direction by Sahar Nooraei
Fashion by Fendi Fall/Winter 2021 Ready-To-Wear Collection
Makeup by Sheri Stroh at Plutino Group
Photo Assistant: Maxime Guay