A wise man once said ‘All roads lead to Rome’. Ahhh Rome. It had been many years since my last trip to ’the eternal city’ and this was before social media, before Instagram and well before I entered this industry. I remember visiting with my boyfriend while we were on a European hiatus and being joyfully overwhelmed by everything. The architecture, the food, the Colosseum and the fashion was like nothing like I’d ever seen before. I was swept up in the culture and the atmosphere and of course had no choice but to sample all the shopping related delights on offer. Vintage blazers, leather goods and boots (at least three pairs from memory) were all expertly tetris’d to fit into my small suitcase to take home to Australia, where they became life long treasures that I would wear for years to come and be nonchalantly mentioned in conversation that they were purchases from ‘my trip to Rome’.
Fast forward a decade later and I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that one day I would travel to Rome as a guest of Fendi for their Haute Couture collection, let alone the very first solo show for Silvia Venturini Fendi. It all started with a conversation during the Fendi Fall 2019 show, an iconic experience after the very recent passing of the eminent Karl Lagerfeld as Artistic Director. You may even remember this post where we discussed the bond between Karl Lagerfeld and Fendi as ‘Fashion’s longest love story’. After 54 years with the brand, Mr Lagerfeld left behind a splendid legacy and one that Silvia Venturini Fendi would take over with magnificent ease and natural ability. It was my very first Fendi show and one that I will never forget, as the mood so poignantly reflected Karl Lagerfeld’s final notes and finishing touches to pieces that both he and Silvia Venturini Fendi created together. A ceremonious changing of the guard that was celebrated at the end of the show with a standing ovation from the crowd and a surprise short film captured of Mr Lagerfeld sketching himself in the outfit that he wore on his first day working at Fendi all those many years ago.
You can then imagine my excitement at the mention of travelling to Rome for the Fendi Fall 2019 Couture show and the celebration of Silvia Venturini Fendi’s very first Haute Couture show as the new Artistic Director. Silvia Venturini Fendi has the closest of connections to the iconic luxury house, not only is she the granddaughter of Edoardo and Adele Fendi who started the Fendi brand in 1925, she has also spent years as the Creative Director of Fendi accessories, menswear and childrens-wear. We all have Mrs Fendi herself to thank for inventing the Baguette bag, a piece that has been the staple of our dreams and the fashion zeitgeist since 1997.
With less than 48 hours on the ground the trip was going to be action packed, full of excitement of course consist of moments that would become treasured memories forever. Speaking of memory making moments… The stage for the Fendi Fall 2019 Couture was set in the monumental Temple of Venus, a magnificent Roman forum, once the largest temple in Rome dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix and Roma Astern, and additionally undergoing a transformative restoration thanks to kindness of the Fendi family. The show titled ‘The Dawn of Romanity’ comprised of 54 looks in honour of the 54 years that Karl Lagerfeld worked at the helm of Fendi. Set against the back drop of the Colosseum, this was a runway like no other, and a true pinch me moment in my career that seems more dream than reality. As the sun set over Palatine Hill and crickets chirped in the warm summer nights breeze, an ethereal vocalist set the ambient beat for the first looks to grace the runway. Patchwork marble mosaic details inspired by ancient Roman terracotta reliefs, intricately hand stitched floral embellishments representative of the greenery intertwined within the ancient ruins and the sheerest of gowns so good that Venus herself would be envious, were some of my favourite moments from the collection. The final walk through showcasing all 54 looks brought about resounding applause and emotion to the audience as they elegantly cooled themselves with their Fendi rattan fans, my most treasured souvenir from the trip… and my new constant companion, no matter what the mercury may measure. Although the models returned backstage and Silvia Venturini Fendi had taken her bow for her debut collection, the show was not over by any means. After all this is Fendi, a brand that knows the true meaning of luxury and how to create a truly breathtaking experience for their guests… And believe me when I say, I am still yet to catch my breath.
The day following the show we were treated to a magical experience at the Palazzo della Civita Italiana, home of the Fendi Headquarters. Here we were invited to view the collection up close with the incredible Haute Couture artisans to learn first hand about the intricate hand crating and magnificent mastery of each piece. From the showroom, we were then escorted to the in-house Fendi Cinema for a special viewing of the show once more with an interview from Silvia Venturini Fendi, certainly not the regular day at the cinema.