legends and fairytales: fendi celebrates its birthday with couture
On Thursday evening, Fendi celebrated its 90th birthday with an haute couture show on the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
To walk on water seems like a fair enough wish for a 90th birthday — walking on the Trevi Fountain might be pushing it. That is, of course, unless you happen to be a Roman fashion dynasty and you just paid for its restoration. On Thursday evening, Fendi did the impossible: a tourist-free Trevi. Streets were closed and plexi-glass was installed so that Silvia Venturini Fendi, her family and Karl Lagerfeld could have the fairytale celebration of a lifetime. Guests sat on the steps facing Salvi's baroque masterpiece as maestro Michel Gaubert played the enchanting score from "Giulietta Degli Spiriti" by Fellini — the man who immortalized a frolicking Anika Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita — and Kendall Jenner opened the haute couture show walking across the fountain in a mid-century ocean blue astrakhan dress embellished with pink and powder blue mink. The celebrations were called Legends and Fairytales. The collection was the stuff dreams are made of: motifs by 20th century Danish artist Kay Nielsen, a master of fantastical illustrations, were depicted directly in fur on coats and capes and dresses so intricate you wished you'd brought your opera glasses.
Before his death, Nielsen provided artwork for Disney's The Little Mermaid, the fairytale written by his countryman Hans Christian Anderson, who came to Rome four times on his grand tours. The city's magic charmed his imagination, and inspired him to draw and write — doubtlessly, some of his most famous fairytales were born out of the supernatural magnetism of Rome. In 1833, he spent Christmas Eve with fellow superstar Bertel Thorvaldsen — the neo-classicist sculptor — in Villa Borghese overlooking the city. For her family company's 90th birthday dinner post-show, Silvia Venturini Fendi took her guests to a similar spot, the Terraza del Pincio not far from the villa, with a view of Saint Peter's Basilica and a guest list of designers to remind you that some of the best in the business started out at Fendi. Before Dior announced her nomination as creative director this morning, Maria Grazia Chiuri — who showed her last collection for Valentino with Pierpaolo Piccioli, also in attendance, on Wednesday in Paris — joined the celebrations. Her hands were covered in Gucci rings, a nod to Alessandro Michele, who couldn't be there, but also spent his formative years in fashion at Fendi.
Supporting the industry and the city Fendi calls home are just some of the contributions the furrier has made to its surrounding world over the past ninety years. Last year the house moved into the Civilta Italiana, the Mussolini-era building it paid to restore — and the very reason Fendi's anniversary show on the Trevi Fountain last night became a reality is because they paid for that restoration, too. Silvia Venturini Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld couldn't have chosen a better way to mark the 90th anniversary of one the most charismatic heritage houses in fashion. Like the air that always surrounds Fendi and Rome, it was magical — and more spectacular than ever before.
Text Anders Christian Madsen