Dual Force
InStyle Australia|September 2019

FENDI’S VERY FIRST CO-GENDER RUNWAY SHOW CELEBRATED ANOTHER OF THE LABEL’S POWERHOUSE PAIRINGS: KARL LAGERFELD AND SILVIA VENTURINI FENDI

Natalie Mell
If I look back at pictures when I was a little girl, I was always dressed in black,” reflects Silvia Venturini Fendi of her first fashion memory. “And I remember one day we were at the seaside on holidays—my mother worked, so I was on holidays with my nanny and my sisters— and this lady stopped us and said, ‘Oh, I like those girls, are they orphans? They are always dressed in black.’” Not an unfair question considering that in Italy, where Venturini Fendi was born and raised, wearing black for an extended period of time is a traditional mourning ritual. But this wasn’t the case, and her nanny quickly quashed that theory with her to-the-point response, “No, they’re from fashion.” No further explanation needed.

The granddaughter of Adele and Edoardo Fendi, who founded the label that bears her last name in Rome in 1925, Venturini Fendi is as “from fashion” as you can get. Her mother, Anna, also worked for the brand, and while Venturini Fendi recalls questioning why Anna never dressed her in the type of frothy-pinkcreations that can light up a little girl’s eyes, she adds, “But then I understood that she was right, because she never put me in a box.”

Now the brand’s creative director of childrenswear, menswear and accessories, this helps explain why Venturini Fendi—and the “Fendi is a brand that has a long history. A history made of strong women and strong men” label generally—is so adept at crafting fashion that can’t be pigeonholed. The designer is, after all, the mind behind the wildly successful Baguette bag, in all its embellished, bright and logo-adorned variations, as well as the cleanlined and classic Peekaboo bag, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

“We like to mix things that normally wouldn’t go together,” says Venturini Fendi, summing up the dualism that lingers within the label’s work—a concept she sees grounded in its rich Roman history. “It’s a city that is always struggling to find a balance between its heavy past and the future. And I think this brings you to always look at the back and [to] the front at the same time.”

If past and present meet at Fendi, so does another set of opposing forces: man and woman. Venturini Fendi is the only Fendi family member who remains working for the label, which was acquired by the LVMH group in 2001, but before her, the designer’s mother and her four aunts were integral to transforming the brand into the globally recognised luxury powerhouse that it is today.

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Issue 117