Edith Underdal Nordic Impressions, 2013
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Fendi chronicles – between Visconti and D’annunzio

Songs of the roman chronicle and aristocratic punk interiors. Theatrical costumes for dreamy, luminescent and faded photographs. Searching a liquid aesthetic. This is the Fendi story that will be more up to date next year

In 2016 Fendi will be 90 years old and incredibly fresh and with formidable design vitality. Throughout nine decades of existence, the metamorphic creative parabola of the Roman Maison has followed an emotional itinerary full of suggestions of a modernity that became destiny. The key to the initial success of the brand lay in the artistic and artisan vision of Fendi, an inimitable mosaic of savoir-faire, technical experimentation and materials, language and creativity. An expressive line continually, incredibly exceeding, aimed at almost negating all previous success. It is a gamble that ceaselessly foresees and rereads subsequent waves and contemporary achievements. The plot line of the brand is nourished by infinite inspiration, by the most varied borrowings, that each time are remediated and taken apart down to disconcerting purity of the absolute and central idea, until these are transformed into other things. Then they are mixed with other contributions which are also atomised, altered and overturned. An accumulation, a magma that is elaborated by subtraction and finally sublimates in conceptual alchemy. Details and impressions dissected and reduced to the essence, whether Soviet Suprematists or Dada, Kubin and the Byzantine gold of Klimt, the Jugendstil of Prague and Paris of Alphonse Mucha, Italian Kinetics of the 1960’s and the Wiener Werkstätte, Borromini, Damien Hirst or a vibrant Fauvist palette. Or even a kaleidoscope of ironic and entertaining hyper-pop citations, the glossy, plasticised comic of Valentina and many cinematographic frames, noir, sophisticated comedy, authorial fragrances that then are composed in an innovative, exciting texture.

That of Fendi is a dynamic inventiveness, feverish transformation launched like a spaceship toward the future. A iconoclastic, short circuit in time that burning the connection to the past to assimilate the memory, the full sense and the psychic charme in just one magnificent instant, transforming it into a platform for reading and interpreting what is to come tomorrow. Rome, the Eternal City, on its own, is an immeasurable container of semantics and beauty. The figure of the Urbe, the real meaning of its being immortal, is enclosed in a dizzying game of overlapping and entwining, like a tangle of roots that instantly connect a long history to the present and to the yet unknown files containing the future. Rome is Fendi and Fendi is Rome. These are dimensions accumulated by the same capacity for synthesis and vision, by the same origins and an aesthetic emanation without time, impossible to date or seal in any predefined box. Exploded archaeological ancestry and visions of new horizons, endless cultural assimilation and attachment to a tradition as immense and welcoming as a mother goddess. The glory of the Church and the poignant epos of Pasolinian suburbs. The travertine steeped in light of the square Coliseum, abstraction, the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio, the dolce vita of the terraces of the Corso. Baroque splendour dissolved, liquefied in a surreal, dreamlike cross between Eugène Berman and Tano Festa, the hollowed and esoteric nocturnal Fellini of Toby Dammit – an episode loosely based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe in the anthology film Tre passi nel delirio (Spirits of the Dead) 1968 – that merges with the gurgling rhythm of the thousand and one fountains of the city. Ah yes, the fountains, a Capitoline icon. Sumptuous scenography and mountains of stone, fictional rocky shores inhabited by naiads and tritons made living by the hypnotic magic of water within the most incredible urban narrative. A theme which has become a basic inspiration for the double F brand that with ‘Fendi for Fountains’ has recently financed a vast program for renovation and restoration of some of the most important of these.

WEBSchermata 2020 09 03 alle 12.19.37
Fox Fur with Inlays, Fall Winter 2016, FENDI.

The fashion show Haute Fourrure of July took place on a muggy summer evening with a tropical mood right in the resonant cavern of the Fontana di Trevi, on a transparent runway just above the water. Against the background of the dazzling mise en scene of the naturalistic rocks and white sculptures created by Nicola Salvi for Pope Corsini in the first half of the 18th century. Jacques de Bascher in 1977 made the first fashion movie in history for Fendi, Histoire d’eau, following the sensual Suzy Dyson for twenty minutes, intertwining with entertaining lightness classical mythology with De Chirico, mild 70’s eroticism with the anarchic vocation of the hippy generation, as she gets wet, demurely and nonchalant in the most celebrated fountains of the Urbe. Fendi means must-have accessories, Zucca fabric, a logo that condenses half a century of artistic direction by Karl Lagerfeld. Intarsia furs, tricot, shaved and carved, full of feathers, coloured and decoloured by chromatic fields, lightness, material metathesis and broderies féerique. In short, unique objects of desire. The impalpable yet sculptural fluidity of the ‘Mappamondo’ wrap of 1967 next to the cape in peau d’ange mink mixed with a gradation of feathers, a pale pink cloud from the first Haute Fourrure in Paris in the summer of 2015. And now, a rediscovered romanticism, extremely youthful. Sunny golden brocades for the Marie-Antoinette of today, refined transparencies with consciously contradictory formal irregularities, provocative bon ton, as in the latest Milan prêt-à-porter show. The mythical fur motif ‘Astuccio’, hieratic and revolutionary cult Fendi, splits on the centrifugal geometric obsessions of the Cosmati paving as much as the graphisms of Scheggi, di Biasi and Castellani and on the strict grid of rationalism. The Cronachetta delle pellicce (Pleasure) by D’Annunzio, a masterpiece of literature for evoking the tactile and sensory that pervades it, fades in the prophetic and opulent 70’s melodrama Gruppo di famiglia in un interno (Conversation Piece), the most heartfelt and intensely political of Luchino Visconti’s films. An authentic manifesto of the aesthetics of the Maison. Fendi is all this and more, much, much more.

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