For Silvia Venturini Fendi, the open space inside Fendi's seven-story palazzo in Rome has boosted the brand's creative vibe since it was inaugurated in 2005.
The brand, stressed Fendi, has steadily benefited from the greater proximity for the staffs of the various product categories and from a more harmonious relationship with Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi's ready-to-wear director for more than 40 years.
"Before the fur [department] and the footwear were in separate rooms, while now there's a liaison between everything and this has really helped develop a unique train of thought and vision," said Fendi, who was appointed brand accessories director in 1994. She is also men's wear director and masterminded the hit Baguette bag in 1997.
Take the fall collection, where Lagerfeld's use of technology, design and construction for Fendi's furs found an ideal partner in the Voodoo bag, a structured style with wool dreadlocks, spangles and layers of macro sequins that is the brand's best-selling style for fall.
The design offices have also helped fuel growing categories such as footwear, whose sales account for 10 percent of revenues, with the goal of doubling the figure over the next two years.
During the past couple of years, footwear sales have ballooned from 55,000 pairs in 2005 to 118,000 for fall 2007.
Footwear prices range from $330 at retail for fabric and mirror ballerina flats to $1,140 for leather boots with beaver fur. Bags and small leather goods account for 55 percent of sales; rtw and fur for 25 percent; footwear 10 percent, and other accessories, 10 percent.
To implement the footwear division, Fendi tapped renowned designer Ernesto Esposito to consult on the collections and has hired two young designers for the footwear team. "Esposito is very technical, which is great when you're making good-looking shoes that are also comfortable," said Fendi.
Fendi, in fact, challenges her team to deliver comfortable edginess like the one injected into spring's Fifties-derived platform with latex straps. Of the 150-style shoe collection, half are carried over each season, especially the sneakers.
Generally speaking, forging a new collection is an unconventional process at Fendi. "We don't work with preset themes or with trend charts, but we all toss ideas around, we communicate and express a precise vision," said Fendi. "I have a very free design approach based on research. We don't meet with the marketing division, for example."This allows her to press hard for innovation. "I never give up good quality, but in general I don't get nostalgic for one material because I like to change," said Fendi. "That said, I do have a weak spot for suede and napa."
Fendi also likes to play with poor-rich textures, as in plastic, crocodile or leather combinations.
"We work really hard, but we have so much fun because we love what we do," said Fendi. "That's what drives you."
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye