29 October, 2018

Fendi Makes History

How often does a fashion house start a revolution, make history and then make history again? Just ask Fendi. 

They have been at the centre of some truly remarkable feats. The combination of Sylvia Venturini-Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld has shown us that Fendi is not afraid to be bold.

A partnership spanning over 50 years they have rejected the convention where fashion designers play musical chairs with each other. They have produced a string of successes in a way that only Fendi can but with a dash of controversy. 

From the fashion show staged on the Great Wall of China to the unfortunate pieing incident, here is the story of Fendi.

Rome and Fendi - The Eternal Connection

Rome and Fendi share a special relationship. It was here where their story began in 1925 when Edoardo and Adele Fendi opened a leather and fur works store.

Rome was a fruitful source of inspiration for Adele who created a series of hits. One of those hits was the Selleria collection. Launched in 1938, it was a series of hand-made bags using Roman leather.

When the second-generation of the Fendi family took over the business in 1946, it was here where Fendi experienced strong growth. The five sisters of Paola, Carla, Anna, Alda and Franca each reigned over a part of the business. 

During this successful period, they started working with one of fashion's most controversial figures, Karl Lagerfeld.

When Fendi Met Karl

In 1965, emerging designer Karl Lagerfeld joined Fendi. He started experimenting with furs and succeeded in starting the first of many revolutions by Fendi.

He managed to transform fur from being a symbol of status to one of fun. How? Lagerfeld designed a fur collection comprised of light and colourful hues. The target was independent and emancipated women on the search for a unique style.

Trivia - The double F logo also debuted which means fun furs and it's since become a staple in their designs.

Lagerfeld Controversies

As much as Lagerfeld's fur collections have been praised, they have also been criticised. Activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), has campaigned for fashion houses, like Fendi, to stop using real fur in fashion.

In 2001, PETA activists targeted Lagerfeld at an event in New York armed with Tofu-pies. Hurling remarks such as 'fur pimp', they launched pies at the German designer but hit Calvin Klein instead. A spokesman said the pieing incident was friendly fire as Klein is a friend of animals.

Lagerfeld's rejection of this call to action reached new heights when Fendi's 2015 collection, called Haute Fourrure, honoured Lagerfeld's 50th anniversary with Fendi. The collection was laden with a series of fur designs which reportedly included a million-dollar coat. How? A combination of costly furs like Sable and the fact that each follicle is covered in silver.

Despite protests outside and various walkouts by editors, the show was praised by critics. Lagerfeld has gone from strength to strength with Fendi and this continued when, Sylvia, the 3rd generation, arrived.

Sylvia Venturini-Fendi

In 1994, Sylvia Venturini-Fendi joined the company. Working with Karl, she became the creative director of the accessories range.

1997 was a landmark year for the designer when Fendi debuted the baguette bag. Renowned for its craftsmanship and use of the finest materials, it marked the end of the 90s and the minimalist style.

Fendi's exploits in fashion are quite fascinating, you can say that Fendi make their own rules and this rebellious streak has lead to some remarkable achievements. Here are some of their milestones. 

Fashion Show on The Great Wall of China

They say that Beauty Breaks Rules.

One of the most famous days for Fendi, Fashion, the World and Space! In October 2007, Fendi held a fashion show on the Great Wall of China.

Comprised of 88 models and 88m of a catwalk, it became the first and only fashion show to be viewable from space.

Fendi Turns 60

Have you ever celebrated a birthday like Fendi?

Their 60th Birthday in 1985 was one to remember as it was celebrated in 3 different countries! Rome, London and New York.

  • Rome marked the occasion with an exhibition of Fendi's work at their national museum of modern art.
  • In New York, Fendi opened their first store in the USA at the historic Fifth Avenue in New York.

Trivia  - To mark the launch of their first perfume, Paris raised 26 Fendi flags.

Fendi Haute Couture

In July 2015, Fendi entered the world of Haute Couture. Presented by Karl Lagerfeld, they showed fur pieces never-before-seen. 

Trivia - The collection was shown at the Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris.

Fendi Restore Trevi Fountain

Fendi solidified their links with Rome by restoring the Trevi Fountain, a symbol of beauty and eternity. Occurring during their 90th anniversary, the project took 17 months. Check out the video! (spoken in Italian with English subs).

Final Words

Every fashion house has a story and Fendi is like no other. Their links with Rome are one of fashion most endearing stories and soon entering its 100th year! 

They joined the fashion juggernaut LVMH in the early 2000s and opened 200 stores. Fendi Takes Over The World?

Since contributing to the fur revolution which is reportedly worth £40bn, it serves as a reminder of the fashion industries controversial relationship with animals. While the use of fur is considered luxurious, alternatives are becoming ever present with the rise of Faux Fur (false fur).

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Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Fendi