WHEN you think of Fendi you think of two things – Italy and luxury. For over 90 years, the Maison has been one of the leaders of the fashion industry; synonymous for its craftsmanship and ability to bring tradition into the twenty-first century.
Founded in 1925 in Rome, Adele and Edoardo Fendi opened their first store – a shop concentrating on handbags and fur. Since its humble beginnings, Fendi has thrived and continued to maintain its family at the core of a global brand.
In 1992, the third-generation of the Fendi family entered the helm of the brand and Silvia Venturini Fendi took up the spot of Artistic Director alongside Karl Lagerfeld.
In 1997, Silvia designed arguably one of the most iconic bags in history. The Fendi Baguette. The small, rectangular-shaped bag that fits effortlessly underneath your arm, sealed with the double F clasp still creates waves in an ocean of bags. To date, the brand has sold over 1 million baguettes in hundreds of different variations over the years.
This year Fendi are celebrating both the bag and Italian heritage. Partnering with local artisans across its home country, each region will see the outstanding skills of artisans be put on a pedestal as they reinterpret the Baguette using techniques famous in the area.
The project titled Hand In Hand will see a limited edition Baguette in an edition of 20, stamped by the atelier with their name and location – alongside an extra special gold logo.
These one-of-a-kind pieces go above and beyond the craftsmanship we are used to. Techniques not found anywhere else and that have been passed down through generations will be used to create bags reminiscent of masterpieces of art.
Silvia Venturini Fendi reflects on this special project, “I am developing a special project with Italian artisans, each one selected from a different Italian region. The first example is the leather Baguette bag that was presented on the Fall/Winter 2020-2021 catwalk.
It is made in Tuscany by a man who normally makes small leather goods all by hand in small quantities. He makes everything by himself. It’s made of vegetal leather, very natural, and there is no stitching, it’s just bonded.”
Beginning the Hand In Hand journey in Tuscany, Fendi gave us our first taste of this collaboration during the FW20 show. Crafted in from a single piece of dark brown leather, that has been stained using vegetables, and requiring no stitching or lining, the Peroni atelier in Florence are the geniuses behind this piece pictured above.
Using a technique called Cuoio Artistico Fiorentino, the Peroni craftsmen have been perfecting this since 1956. This requires wetting leather and placing it on a wooden form to give it the desired shape – in this case, the Fendi Baguette. The Peroni atelier in Florence is now run by the third generation of the original family, echoing both Fendi and Italian culture.
In Venice, the archives of the jacquard artisans Luigi Bevilacqua have been opened. The family has over five centuries of experience in Venetian textiles – handwoven over 18th century looms, silk and cotton velvet shape this Baguette to highlight the faded beauty of the city surrounded by water.
Not forgetting to mention, only a few centimetres of fabric are created per day as it is such a time-consuming and intricate process.
In the village of Nardò in Puglia, the Dodino lace workshops are looping and knotting lace designs onto wooden shuttles in a technique known as chiacchierino.
Put onto padded cotton and linen, the lacework comes to life on the Baguette with 3D floral clouds embroidered onto the bag.
Doing a full circle, Fendi returns home to Lazio; a city rich in the mastery of materials such as marble and silver, as well goldsmithing – all encapsulated by jeweller Massimo Maria Melis. For nearly forty years, his atelier in Via Dell’Orso in the centre of Rome has gained international recognition for his intricate pieces that combine ancient coins, polychrome glass and marble.
For this Hand In Hand bag, leather is used with Melis’ crafted gold-plated silver applique bezel flourishes; made from the lost wax technique with hand-carved rare marbles that are extracted from quarries. The gems on the bag are made from the ancient Roman technique called granulatura, as well as two original bronze coins portraying Roman Emperors from the Imperial Period are on the front.
Other areas that are explored in the Hand In Hand collection are Sardinia, Marche, Umbria, Molise, Calabria, Abruzzo and Sicily.
Fendi together with the talent in Italy has produced fashion close to pieces of art. Not only is the Baguette getting reimagined, but tradition and ancient methods of craftsmanship are having a light shone on them during a very dark time for us all.
by Imogen Clark