Set against the backdrop of the Roman Colosseum, Fendi’s Fall/Winter show was otherworldly
The collection was inspired by the cinematic allure of a Roman woman from the 1970s
It was the perfect mid-summer night’s dream. History breathed heavily. The moon cast its silver light on the Temple of Venus and Roma, high on the Palatine Hill in the Eternal City. The incandescent Colosseum served as the backdrop to the otherworldly showcase that was aptly titled The Dawn of Romanity. Interestingly, the story goes that the first stone of Rome was laid here by Romulus. The universe has a strange way of making this work: it was only befitting that this was the venue of choice for Silvia Venturini Fendi, to make her first strides after Karl Lagerfeld.
In a glorious homage to the Kaiser, Fendi presented 54 looks— one for each year he spent at the Maison. Ingenious in design and extraordinary in its scope, the staggering collection proved the mettle of the Roman design house as a harbinger of a modern vision while keeping the trimmings of its legacy.
In an ELLE India exclusive, we spoke to Silvia Venturini Fendi just ahead of the Couture Fall/Winter 2019-20 show.
ELLE: Tell us about the restoration process of the Temple of Venus and Rome. Why that monument?
Silvia Venturini Fendi: The relationship between Fendi and the world of culture and arts is a deep one, lasting since 1925, when my grandparents Edoardo and Adele Fendi founded the Maison in Rome. A bond made of strong values such as innovation, tradition, savoir-faire, creativity, Italian spirit has been strengthened further thanks to Fendi’s commitment to the preservation of iconic monuments in Rome.
The Palatine Hill is a magical place, perfectly representing the values of Fendi, its roots of Romanity, a cradle of antiquity that rises up above the city, crowning the Seven Hills of Rome. These ruins formed a unique monumental backdrop for the Couture Fall/ Winter 2019-20 show.
ELLE: Karl Lagerfeld has a deeply personal relationship with you and with Fendi. What is going through your mind right now just before you get ready for such a big show?
SVF: Karl Lagerfeld has been my mentor and my point of reference. Our relationship was very special, based on a deep and very genuine affection. A blink of an eye was enough to understand each other. For Fendi and myself, the creative genius of Karl has been and will always be our guiding light, moulding the Maison’s DNA.
ELLE: Tell us a little bit about what you had in mind while staging this show.
SVF: Celebrating Rome in its ageless glory, the collection unfolds in a symphony of shifting impressions. On one hand, the rigour and tessellation of classical architecture. On the other, nature’s own systems: its roots, filaments, structures and stratum. Above all, the cinematic allure of a Roman woman.
ELLE: What was the starting point of inspiration for The Dawn of Romanity?
SVF: Lifted from the pages of Raniero Gnoli’s Marmora Romana, the collection explores the metamorphic splendour of marble—its essence as one of nature’s imperfect wonders threaded with crystalline veins and otherworldly colours. Evoking the masterful craft of opus sectile marquetry—from the mosaics of Caligula’s Nemi ships to the floors of the Domus Tiberiana— pictorial decorations are synthesised in fabric and fur, blurring the lines of materiality in the third dimension. Alluding to the serene palette of the Jugendstil, pastel shades of citrine, jade, rose quartz and chalcedony encounter mineral and earth tones flecked with gold.
A roster of celebrities who attended the couture showcase