MILAN, Italy — The story of how a woman as innately, drolly subversive as Silvia Venturini Fendi came to be the figurehead of the global luxury brand that bears her family name will one day make a brilliant Netflick. I’m especially looking forward to the Brazilian jungle interlude when she ran away as far as she could from Rome. That was /years/ before she created the Baguette, of course. That single bag helped propel Fendi into the billion-dollar-business stratosphere while offering indelible proof that Silvia knew her way around an accessory. She was at it again on Monday morning when she presented Fendi’s latest men’s collections. It was themed around all sorts of twisty ways to take a new look at Fendi classics. “The most basic thing is our packaging,” said Silvia, “so from that we developed accessories from all our different shopping bags and boxes. We even remade our shoe pouches in napa.” One bag was no more than a few inches square. What would you keep in that? “Your sense of irony,” she shot back. Hers is well-developed after all these years.
But there is also a side to Silvia that is straight up, especially when her Roman roots are showing. All the new accessories were coloured Fendi’s signature sunshine yellow. She loves the sun. Yellow came and went throughout the show. At the finale, four models dressed in white jackets produced in collaboration with Japanese brand Anrealage, which is famous for subjecting its garments to photochromic light-sensitive transformations, walked down the catwalk to pose in a ring of UV lights. The jackets turned yellow, as they would in the sunlight of Rome. Owning sunshine seemed like a smart commercial move.
Another side to Silvia’s smarts: her faith in functionality. As a bag designer, that is something she knows a lot about. Going back to the little square bag for a second, the reason it could be so tiny and decorative was that Silvia had created “body wallets,” tops with pockets for everything you needed bags for: earpods, credit card, phone and on and on. “I’ve put the accessories into the garments,” she said. She made a feature of function in another way by turning garments inside out to reveal their matte satin innards. “It’s often the insides that are most sartorial.”