For his second presentation of Fendi couture, creative director Kim Jones eschewed the IRL happenings and headliners in Paris and transported his audience to Rome––or rather, a subliminal vision of the eternal city through a cinematic short by Luca Guadagnino. What transpired was an haute couture dream of princess gown silhouettes and intricate embroidery to birth the Italian renaissance in a contemporary context.
Fendi’s new couture collection is only the second to come from the British designer, who is also the creative director of Dior Menswear, and follows his highly anticipated, star-studded debut back in January that traced his transition from England to Italy. Fast forward to today, and it seems like Jones has settled well in the Maison’s birthplace of Rome, where he’s also found a formidable muse for the upcoming season.
Delving deep into chapters of the city’s rich past, Jones was guided by the poetics of Pier Paolo Pasolini, another Italian film great, whose unorthodox perspective and voice in Roman history provided a lens of exploration. “Pasolini observed Rome become modern—and that is what is interesting to me: connecting eras, the old with the new, the past with the present,” he explains. As such, the new collection was born through designs of intertwining ideas and overlapping temporalities to transfigure the past in the present and celebrate the eternal beauty of the Italian capital.
Completing Jones’ vision was Guadagnino’s fashion film, shot at the Cinecitta Studios in Rome itself. Against a postmodernist backdrop of the Roman cityscape, fascist architecture and marble textures injected the moment with an air of austere simplicity to complement the opulent dresses on display. With a set decor that recalled the square colosseum of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (also home to Fendi HQ), a labyrinth of walkways, arched laggios and steps served as the show’s runway. And who to grace this space of such regal splendour? A cast of supermodel stars, of course—spanning new-gen girls like Rianne Van Rompaey and Adut Akech alongside ’90s icons that include Amber Valletta, Christy Turlington, Paulina Porizkova and Kate Moss, who opened and closed the film in a pure-white petalled dress.
A strong emphasis was placed on decoration and fabrication to revive antique garments with fantastical Roman glamour. Furs and fabrics were scanned and reimagined as jacquards, then given a new life with the embellishment of crystal beads, manifesting through the predominance of occasion wear. Ornate florals bloomed across tulle dresses and clutches in mother-of-pearl mosaics, while pietra dura inlays were embedded on leather intarsia suits and jackets to re-sculpt the body in the illusion of Italian sculptures.
Elsewhere, the immortal allure of marble was injected into flowing ballgowns through printed trompe l’oeil silks. Paired with sky-scraping boots, mini dresses came in the form of delicate lace, in which intricate embroidery conjured the appearance of classic volutes to imbue soft structured strength. In contrast, feathered trims enveloped the surface of grandiose ballgowns, creating a hypnotising volume that shifted with every step in light, frothy motion.
As with his past collections, Jones also offered a couple of men’s looks––most strikingly in the form of glittering ombre tailored suit that evoked a cosmic nightscape. There’s also a sweater crafted in repurposed Persian lamb to compose a mosaic in 18,000 pieces.
Accessories came by way of sculptural jewellery handcrafted by Delfina Delettrez—a fourth-generation Fendi and the daughter of Silvia Venturini Fendi—who offered an array of mismatched earrings in some of her signature eye shapes, alongside conch-like ear cuffs that could almost double as futuristic earbuds. And amidst it all was the birth of an eye-catching new shoe that translated the arches of the Palazzo in a stylish wedge heel.
We go to Fendi if we want extravagance and this season, Jones delivered extravagance in abundance.
See the full collection in photos here.
Watch the fashion film for Fendi AW21 Couture below:
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