Kim Jone’s love for the Bloomsbury Group was first documented through his launch collection for Fendi in 2021. The designer was inspired by the writers and the intellectuals of the 20th century for his debut presentation under the legacy fashion house. His admiration for them, specifically Virginia Woolf has now taken the form of a full-fledged book titled, The Fendi Set.
Jones enchantment with the English artistic movement can be traced back to his childhood; when he lived in the South of England where extended members of the Bloomsbury family resided in the neighbouring villages of Rodmell and Firle. “I must have been about fourteen when they came onto my radar. As a teenager, I would visit Lewes with my family, and we moved there when I was sixteen. Lewes is quite bohemian, and the Bloomsbury Group and Virginia Woolf were often discussed within my group of friends,” revealed the creative director.
Over the years, Jones has accumulated a profound collection of first-copies of books affiliated with the Bloomsbury Group. The signed collective includes work from the Hogarth press editions – the publishing house founded by Woolf and her husband Leonard and works of art by Grant and Bell, amongst others. For this passion project, Jones teamed with renowned portrait and documentary photographer Nikolai von Bismarck – known for his expansive body of work in glossy magazines along with exhibits in Paris and Tokyo.
The Fendi Set is an encapsulation of Von Bismarck’s modern interpretation of the Bloomsbury world, perfectly juxtaposed with Jones’ insightful archives. The book is a multi-layered, multi-textured collage of images – mirroring the allure of a Victorian photograph album. Every segment is created with a vast selection of papers and unique printing techniques. From identical copies of the diary entries by the members to fascinating love letters between Virginia Woolf and her infamous partner Vita Sackville West – the volume in Virginia’s signature ‘Caslon’ font perfectly summarises the significance of a historical era through the vision of tasteful couturier.
Kim and Von Bismarck segregated the book into 3 distinctive segments. The initial chapters give the readers a peek into the Bloomsbury world through a tour of signification locations associated with the group – including Knole, the ancestral home of Vita Sackville West and Monk’s House, the home which Virginia and Leonard Woolf shared during their wonderfully unconventional married life up until Woolf’s suicide in 1941. “Over eleven months I had the opportunity to go deep – to research, visit and photograph the houses and gardens the Bloomsbury group lived in and decorated, many of which are still remarkably intact, to see the desks they worked at, even the beds they slept in, to walk through the Sussex and Kent countryside in their footsteps and follow them to Rome, and visit the studios they worked and lived in as well as the various sites they painted, sketched and described in their letters and books,” added Von Bismarck.
The middle division of the book takes you back to Paris where, where Jones showcased his first couture presentation with the same photographer. Iconic names from the world of fashion and Hollywood like Demi Moore, Kate and Lila Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, Bella Hadid and Christy Turlington were a part of the fashion film and the runway saga. The sets were inspired by the patinas and geometries created by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant for Charleston – originally influenced by the frescoes of the Italian Renaissance and the ceramics collected on their travels.
For the last leg of the book, the designer and the photographer travelled to Rome to uncover the journey of the Bloomsbury artists who were once there. To conclude this memoir, three generations of Fendi women – Anna, Silvia and Delfina – dressed in the designer’s ready to wear collection for the house, met and posed at the historic location of the Villa Medici in Rome – completing the full circle of this fashion-lit chronicle.
The Fendi Set is Kim Jones’ labour of love dedicated to both the Bloomsbury group and to the House of Fendi. The designer has managed to find a sweet spot of connection between the legacy label and the historic movement.
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