the kids are alright: fendi on the last day of milan men's shows
On the last day of spring/summer 18 men's shows in Milan, Fendi came up with a new dress code for the millennials about to rule the job market.
When it comes to the job market and, well, everything else, millennials don't always have the best reputation. If the elder and wiser raising their finger at us on the 10 o'clock news are to be believed, the generation aged twenty to thirty is too spoiled for real work. 'Snowflakes', they call us--the precious, precarious and ultra liberal youth growing up with Instagram, Uber and Supreme at their disposal, too privileged and opinionated to make it in the real world. But what happens when the millennial world becomes the real world?
Mother to three millennials, Silvia Venturini Fendi had been thinking about a new generation of businessmen for her spring/summer 18 collection on the last day of men's shows in Milan. "It's the idea that you can work wherever you are," she said backstage, opting for a rather more optimistic view on the new generation. "I was fascinated with this Skype look everybody has: you'll be wearing slippers or shorts, and then you put on a tie when you have to go on a Skype call." She executed that idea flawlessly in combos like short-shorts worn with a shirt and tie, paired with casual outerwear like a leather or nylon jacket. Her blazers were stripped down to the absolute minimum: the super lightweight, almost transparent 'tailoring' we all dream of, trying to get on with work in the sweltering city heat this time of year. Instead of applying old values to a new generation, Fendi tailor-made a fresh wardrobe for the millennials, who'll soon be ruling the job market.
"It's the executive floor at Fendi, the third floor. It's where our CEO is, so it's a reflection on a new tie for everyday work--new opportunities in jobs," she continued, referring to the set, which saw models coming out of lifts and exiting the runway through turnstiles, clocking in and out. "There are many changes. You have young kids that become multi-billion companies in a few years. The attitude is changing. I think our lives are changing. New jobs are coming, many old jobs are vanishing. New opportunities--you have to be there and grab them with optimism," Venturini Fendi reflected. A refreshing outlook for an old house like Fendi, the designer's comments highlighted the fusty dinosaur of office dress codes--something the millennial generation have already broken with. And her compromise between formal and streetwear was really quite natural: an effortless mix of "codes from old times" as she called the ties, braces and pullovers she mixed with excellent lightweight dusters, patterned boyish cardigans, and cute 50s shirts featuring prints by artist Sue Tilley -- repeated on bags -- of mundane things like coffee cups, office plants and cocktail glasses.
"She's been doing that all her life: having a double life, working in a Charing Cross office but keeping in touch with her creativity--dreams, creative people, being muse to Lucian Freud, hanging out with Leigh Bowery, and being an artist herself now," Venturini Fendi said of Tilley. "She did it before these young kids' generation." The Fendi show highlighted the millennial theme of the season, which kicked off in St Petersburg with a collaboration between Burberry and millennial go-to streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, who playfully referenced the British superbrand's chav-tactic 00s history for a new generation of fashion fans, who know their fashion history thanks to social media throwbacks and the nostalgia they've created. London's emerging designers followed, spearheaded by Charles Jeffrey and his millennial gang of club kids, who are breathing new life into the city's fashion and nightlife scenes. In Florence a few days after, two of fashion's most millennial brands, J.W. Anderson and Off-White, carried on the banner for the new generation, and in Milan the shows stayed on theme as Dolce & Gabbana had reality stars from Made in Chelsea walk alongside hunky Instagram personalities, and Emporio Armani sent 18-year-old singer Shawn Mendes down its runway. Not to mention Prada where the recent decades' superhero craze -- a natural backdrop to any millennial's upbringing -- took centre stage.
"I read an article that today, kids will change jobs eleven times through their lives, so you really have to be open-minded and be there to get the opportunity," Venturini Fendi said. "There's this worry about machines and technology and androids, which are going to take our work from us, but I think the difference is that we have our fantasy. We dream. We're not replaceable, human beings." This was Fendi doing it for the kids.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams