Do you know which is the longest collaboration between a fashion house and a designer in fashion history? It’s the one between Karl Lagerfeld an Fendi. He was appointed as the creative director in 1965, a role he still holds today. By his side, there is Silvia Venturini Fendi, the Roman maison’s heir that created the iconic Baguette. Are you ready to discover everything about Fendi’s history?
From the beginning to the Sixties: from a small fur atelier to the debut of Karl Lagerfeld
First, Fendi is a family history. Everything starts with the wedding of Edoardo Fendi and Adele Casagrande. She’s a fur designer, and she already opened a small atelier in via del Plebiscito in 1918. When they got married in 1925, the company took the name of Fendi. Its fur and its leather goods collections became a favourite of the Roman aristocracy and the wealthy European clients, making a statement in the luxury world.
In 1946, Edoardo and Adele passed the baton to their five daughters: Anna, Carla, Paola, Franca and Alda. They immediately realized the need for a change, especially on the creative side. After the opening of the first store in via Borgognona in 1964, Fendi sisters decided to appoint a German fashion designer, that had a lot of success at French maison Chloé. One year later, in 1965, Karl Lagerfeld took the helm at Fendi, starting one of the longest collaboration in fashion history.
From the Sixties to the Nineties: the global success and the arrival of Silvia Venturini Fendi
With Lagerfeld, Fendi started its journey towards the top of the fashion world. Thanks to the modern designer vision, Fendi became a pioneer in the fur industry, testing new tanning techniques and working on precious furs. He had the idea to create a logo using the double F monogram, that was a design created for the inner linen of luggage and bags. In 1972, Sophia Loren posed for Vogue America surrounded by about a dozen Fendi bags, booklets, cases and shoe bag, confessing her love for the brand. Fendi became an international icon, beloved by Hollywood celebrities. In the Seventies and the Eighties, all the efforts are on ready to wear collections.
In 1987, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Anna’s daughter, started working in the family company. She basically grew up with Karl Lagerfeld (the was only five years old when the designer arrived in Rome) and always showed a passion for accessories. That’s why she was appointed as accessory director: her first job was to create a younger line, Fendissime.
The turning point is in 1997, the year of the Baguette. Legends say that she had a brilliant creative team, with many designers that would change fashion in the next years: Maria Grazia Chiuri, Pier Paolo Piccioli, Giambattista Valli, Frida Giannini, Alessandro Michele… Why Baguette? Because women can carry it like the famous French bread. In Sex and the City, it’s Carrie Bradshaw favourite handbag.
At the end of the Nineties, mergers and acquisition are shaking the fashion industry. New luxury conglomerates, such as Lvmh, Prada and Gucci Group, are purchasing ancient brands, giving them the financial resources to become even bigger. In 1999, Lvmh and Prada purchased together Fendi’s 51%, leaving both Fendi sisters and Karl Lagerfeld in their roles. In 2001, Bernard Arnault, Lvmh’s patron, bought the remaining quotes from Prada, becoming the brand’s majority shareholder.
The 2000s: Fendi became a cult
With Lvmh’s financial support, Fendi sisters and Karl Lagerfeld focused more on the creative side of the brand. In these years, Fendi experienced a true revival, showing to the world its expertise and its ability to keep up with contemporaneity. Fur remained a must: Fendi, through the years, sharpened its techniques, becoming the number one brand in this industry.
In these years, Fendi brought its name all over the world with big events, like the unforgettable runway show on Chinese Great Wall in 2007, or the fashion show on the Floating Island in Seoul in 2011. Fendi also strengthened its legacy with Rome financing the restyling of Palazzo Fendi, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana and Fontana di Trevi, where it showed the Haute Fourrure for its 90th anniversary.
Accessories, a department that is still lead by Silvia Venturini Fendi, helped Fendi to raise its brand awareness among the fashion people. In 2009, the brand launched the Peekaboo bag, that is still a best seller, then many other bags such as Silvana, dedicated to Italian actress Silvana Mangano, By The Way and 2Jours, that immediately got in the hearts of the fashionistas.
Fendi in 2018
Near to its 100th anniversary, Fendi is still one of the best examples of Made in Italy all over the world. It’s a brand that knows how to talk to the younger generations (Delfina Delettrez Fendi and Leonetta Luciano Fendi, Silvia’s daughters, are the brand ambassadors) and to conquer them with collections that look at traditional craftsmanship and streetwear. The brand’s imagery is also shaped by Karl Lagerfeld’s advertising campaigns, in which starred top models like Bella and Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.
Revisiting the historical logo, Fendi became a street style phenomenon. Thanks to dresses and bombers decorated with the double F monogram and new cult handbags like the Kan I bag, Fendi is undoubtedly one of the fave brands of the fashion icons of Instagram. Our dearest Chiara Ferragni is obsessed by this brand, too!
How to follow Fendi on social networks? The first account you need to look at is the official @fendi profile, with all the latest news about the brand. The next one is @fisforfendi, the digital project about the young Fendi freaks.
To all the Fendi lovers: don’t miss our gallery, with some of the most iconic looks of this amazing brand!