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Kim Jones’ Fendi Debut

Feature: Long Read
Words by CLAUDIA CROFT

In 2017, Kim Jones ushered in the era of luxury streetwear with his groundbreaking Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration. Later, at Dior Men – for whom he continues to design – he redefined masculine elegance for the 21st century with his highly crafted couture-inspired silhouettes, complete with swags and modernist Lesage embroideries. All the while, his menswear attracted stylish women, from Naomi Campbell to Bella Hadid; and now, finally, his female fans can have a Kim Jones wardrobe of their own.

In his new role as Fendi’s artistic director of womenswear, Jones embraces the challenge – and the honour – of following fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld, who held the position up until his death in 2019. If the British creative was daunted by that legacy, he didn’t show it. When, in January, he presented his first Fendi couture collection, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando, Demi Moore opened the show, navigating his crystal-maze catwalk alongside Campbell, Christy Turlington and Kate Moss.

Kim Jones walking down runway of Fendi show

Kim Jones, Fendi women’s artistic director

"I wanted a wardrobe for women for modern times, with the DNA of what Fendi is to me" – Kim Jones

Kate Moss in Fendi show

Kate Moss in Fendi SS21 Couture

He quickly followed that memorable debut with his eagerly anticipated ready-to-wear show, where his vision for a modern Fendi wardrobe took stunning shape. This collection arrives at Harrods this September, with the brand taking over the Exhibition Windows on the Ground Floor with a host of exclusive pieces, including a new ultra-chic grey colourway for bags.

“Real clothes” is how Jones describes his ready-to-wear aesthetic, which is grounded in practicality but crafted to Fendi’s out-of-this-world levels of opulence. “I’m taking the amazing, strong women I both know and work with, and listening to their needs,” he says. “There’s a usefulness to the collection, explored in a chic, timeless way.” With the focus on daywear, tailoring and dresses that have an ease to them, but that you can dress up if you want to, Jones has taken direct inspiration from Fendi women past and present.

One of the first things he did on arriving at the maison was to visit the archives in Rome with Silvia Venturini Fendi, the artistic director of the accessories and menswear lines. As the house grieved for Lagerfeld, she stepped in to design co-ed collections, which offered a serene sense of continuity. She, more than anyone, understands the essence of Fendi, which was founded by her grandparents Adele and Edoardo Fendi in 1925. Her mother, Anna, began taking her to the ateliers when she was a baby, and she’d grown up at the house – and with Lagerfeld. “She knows everything by heart,” says Jones, who also brought in Venturini Fendi’s daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi, an acclaimed jewellery designer, to work on the jewellery for his collections.

Model walking down runway in Fendi clothing

Fendi AW21

In the archive – a treasure trove of Italian craftsmanship and artisanal flair – and with Venturini Fendi as his guide, Jones pored over historic Fendi designs. He also looked at the chic working wardrobes of the five Fendi sisters, Paola, Franca, Carla, Alda and Anna, who by 1947 had followed their parents into the family business. It was the sisters who recruited Lagerfeld in 1965, to bring a modern spirit to their highly crafted creations. And it was the sisters who grew Fendi from a renowned Roman house into a global brand, before selling a majority stake to LVMH and Prada in 1999 (LVMH would buy out Prada two years on from that joint bid). He’s named one jacket in his debut collection the Silvia after being inspired by an “immaculate” outfit Venturini Fendi wore at one of their first meetings.

Kim Jones

"The Fendi family are women of intellect who work hard, and that’s what I wanted to celebrate – a powerful dynasty"

Two women in black and white

Anna Fendi and Silvia Venturini Fendi

In the archive – a treasure trove of Italian craftsmanship and artisanal flair – and with Venturini Fendi as his guide, Jones pored over historic Fendi designs. He also looked at the chic working wardrobes of the five Fendi sisters, Paola, Franca, Carla, Alda and Anna, who by 1947 had followed their parents into the family business. It was the sisters who recruited Lagerfeld in 1965, to bring a modern spirit to their highly crafted creations. And it was the sisters who grew Fendi from a renowned Roman house into a global brand, before selling a majority stake to LVMH and Prada in 1999 (LVMH would buy out Prada two years on from that joint bid). He’s named one jacket in his debut collection the Silvia after being inspired by an “immaculate” outfit Venturini Fendi wore at one of their first meetings.

KIM JONES


"Silvia and her daughters look so chic at work, and half an hour later they come to dinner a touch different, having changed the look"

He also transferred details, clasps and stitching from Fendi’s iconic Selleria bags onto gabardine trenches and double-cashmere coats; the craftsmanship of the Fendi ateliers is omnipresent in the collection and propelled his take on everyday femininity into hyper-luxurious terrain.

First and foremost, Fendi is known for its accessories, and Jones, in collaboration with Venturini Fendi and Delettrez Fendi, has paid particular attention to this element, with a host of exciting designs to celebrate a new chapter for the brand. “When I look at all the houses, it’s the Fendi bags that are unique,” says Jones – and from the very first look, he made clear his intention to continue that tradition, his opening model carrying a dynamic new design: the Fendi First. A striking diagonal clasp tilts the house’s famous ‘F’ logo on its side, and it comes in a huge array of sizes and finishes, not least slate-grey cashmere – embroidered with Lagerfeld’s swirling Karligraphy graphic – and alabaster-coloured python (both are exclusive to Harrods).

The iconic Peekaboo and Sunshine Shopper are also seen from a new perspective, Jones playing with proportions and fabrications, while the Fendi Baguette, which was created by Venturini Fendi in 1997 and kick-started the It-bag craze of the nineties and noughties, is also reimagined, with one version even handcrafted in hardwood, as Jones’ new era at the brand blends opulence with wonderfully playful elements. Shoes with a sculptural ‘F’ heel are based on a sketch Jones found in the archive, while many catwalk looks are accessorised with Delettrez Fendi’s new O’Lock jewellery collection, featuring padlocks that can only be opened when dialled to spell Fendi.

Jones’ process of careful curation, weaving together the many threads of the house’s story with great sensitivity, has – unsurprisingly – endeared him to the Fendi women he now works so closely with. “He knows how to blend his vision with the heritage,” says Venturini Fendi. “It’s not just about Kim; it’s about the brand.” She describes Jones as “a voracious observer of the moment”, of people’s needs and desires. Her verdict on his first season? “It’s very elegant, it’s very neutral-toned, I would say very Fendi.”

That seal of approval means so much to Jones. He wants to make the Fendi women proud: “I feel like they’ve been taking me in as part of the family. I listen to what they say.” His approach is respectful, yet highly impactful. Very Fendi – and very Kim.

Shop Fendi
Fendi AW21 Pop-up
Fendi AW21 Pop-up

 

Celebrating Kim Jones’ debut ready-to-wear collection as Fendi womenswear artistic director, our Exhibition Windows pop-up spotlights the Roman atelier’s new chapter. Alongside Fendi signatures, you’ll find the next generation of cult accessories – the Fendi First bag, for one, which sees the iconic Fendi logo softened into the frame of a squishy clutch, and launches exclusively at Harrods. Find the Fendi AW21 pop-up in-store until Thursday 30th September.

 

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