MILAN, Italy — Silvia Venturini Fendi’s moodboard was a thing of consoling wonder for a plumptious middle-aged man. Here were porky Picasso, kooky Dali, a cheerful Albert Einstein in seriously unflattering short shorts and a protuberant tum, each and every one of them unabashedly enjoying summer in who-cares outfits. “Complex people, simple clothes,” said Silvia. And that was the notion she ran with for her new collection. “Sun, fun, Fendi.”
The set was a David Hockney pool, with a Fendi diving board. Realised rather well, actually, because there was enough that was surreal about the setting to match Silvia’s conviction that normality is just as potent as eccentricity. On that moodboard, she also had copies of watercolours by Tim Gardner, an American artist who manages to paint banality with such hyperreal precision that it becomes surreal. How can a man do that with watercolour? How does Silvia Fendi jiggle menswear just enough that you’re scratching your head?
She loves that, of course. We’ve said it before and we’ll go on saying it till the end of time — or the end of Fendi. Nothing is what it seems. With the winter collection, Silvia toyed with shearling. Here, there was a summer version, terrycloth, in cabana boy tops and jackets, but she sneaked some real shearling into a striped jean jacket, its fuzzy hem the giveaway. The grass green Mongolian lamb parka wasn’t remotely ambiguous but its extravaganza was chilled by shorts and pool slides.
A Fendi collection has to have some technical extraordinariness. With this one, Silvia said everything was reversible, even the hats. It never feels forced. That’s the joy of Fendi. “This is a day at the beach,” she said. “Basically my weekend.”