MILAN — The time has come to bring Fendi out into the world.
China, in particular, is a key priority for Serge Brunschwig, chairman and chief executive officer of the Rome-based company. Accordingly, Brunschwig has tapped Giuseppe Oliveri as Fendi’s worldwide managing director of retail and wholesale, effective July 1. Oliveri was previously general manager of Dior China, and will succeed Charles Delapalme as managing director of retail and wholesale at Fendi. As reported, Delapalme has been appointed Christian Dior Couture’s managing director in charge of commercial activities.
Oliveri will report to Brunschwig and be based in Rome.
“I started my career in luxury in Asia, I discovered Asia and luxury at the same time,” said Brunschwig in an exclusive interview with WWD, his first comprehensive one since his arrival at Fendi in February, succeeding Pietro Beccari, who moved over to lead Dior. Brunschwig was previously president of Dior Homme and joined Dior and Fendi parent group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1995, working for Louis Vuitton and Sephora, with a particular expertise in emerging markets like Asia and the Middle East. “Those were fascinating years that showed me the importance of Asia and China in luxury. Hence this decision.” Brunschwig and Oliveri worked together at Dior. Before that, Oliveri built his career at Benetton and Stefanel in Hong Kong, and then joined Versace as managing director of Asia-Pacific.
Brunschwig described Oliveri as “a very experienced retailer. He has worked for many years in retail and many years in Asia and in particular in China, he knows that market very well. I had the chance to work with him and had great insight on his capacity. He contributed to the development of Dior in China. He also is from Rome so it’s not a bad idea for Fendi, yet he is very international. It’s a good example of what we want to do, to bring Rome to the world and he will be instrumental.”
He emphasized the relevance of the Chinese market for Fendi. To wit, the company will hold an event under the FF Reloaded Experience moniker in Shanghai on May 24 and concurrently launch a new FF Reloaded capsule collection. “Our ambition in China is big and the event in Shanghai is very important,” underscored the executive.
Asked about Fendi’s business in the area, Brunschwig said China is already “extremely relevant” for the brand. “It’s the fastest developing and biggest market. For Fendi it continues to be a priority, in terms of investments, stores and resources,” he said.
There are around 20 Fendi stores in China and Brunschwig said the goal is to continue to consolidate the banners, “showing the best possible service, investing in and adapting our network. This is an organization that is alive, and we now see the opportunity to express new energy.”
“Great projects have been done,” said Brunschwig, emphasizing Fendi’s connection to Rome, with the new headquarters set up in 2015 at the storied Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, nicknamed the “Square Colosseum,” as well as a new flagship at Palazzo Fendi and boutique hotel in central Rome on Largo Goldoni, as well as the restoration of several historical fountains, including the Fontana di Trevi. Now the time has come to “express” the brand outside of Rome. “There are a lot of things to say about Fendi,” he said.
However, Brunschwig said that, while Fendi does not turn its back on its strong heritage and the FF logo first designed by Karl Lagerfeld in 1965 standing for Fun Fur, the company is taking a “disruptive approach” in forging the new course for the brand, “mixing yesterday and tomorrow, tradition and entertainment and expressing it in the strongest way. This is super important in luxury.”
He highlighted the underground quality of the first FF Reloaded event in London in April at the secret graffiti tunnel Lost Rivers (the Shanghai leg is the third of the series). “It was quite amazing, with logos, graffiti, rap, hip-hop. It was a great illustration of what Fendi is.”
Similarly, he cited the inflatable reproduction of the Palazzo della Civiltà for the second FF Reloaded event and pop-up store opened on May 17 in Hong Kong, the “great DJs, local street artists, the music and the streetwise” vibe of it all. The party in Shanghai “will be of the same scale as the one in London,” said Brunschwig, adding that since his arrival he has been sharing ideas on this project and working closely with Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative director for men’s, accessories and kids.
The FF Reloaded Experience in Shanghai will be held in one of the top underground clubs in Asia: Arkham, 30 feet beneath Sunken Plaza, in the French Concession area. With a new take on the FF logo, the company will create a white neon structure that will reproduce the arches of its headquarters in Rome, leading to a stairway embellished with maxi FF logos. At the entrance, a giant LED wall reflected in a mirror will show a video with highlights from the FF Reloaded Experience in London. A custom-built setup will be created for one night only, with neon installations of the logo on the walls, along with a reproduction of The Ring of the Future, the calli-graffiti display conceived by the digital platform and communication project “F is For…” launched in February and created by six street artists from around the world on the rooftop of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. In a dedicated area, called the F-Play Room, guests will have the opportunity to challenge each other on the dance mat with the “Future-Man” game and win a The Ring of The Future T-shirt.
The FF Reloaded capsule collection will be unveiled with a live performance — opened by the Chinese street dance group X-Crew — of K-pop star Jackson Wang, who will sing the unreleased single “Fendi Man.” The video-clip of the song was shot on the rooftop of Fendi’s headquarters and will be introduced that evening. Rap and hip-hop music artists and DJs — ranging from DJ Wordy, Vroskiii, Miss Vava and Higher Brothers to Japanese DJ Alisa and K-pop dancer Lia Kim — will perform at the event.
Venturini Fendi is expected to attend, together with her daughters Delfina Delettrez Fendi and Leonetta Luciano Fendi.
The FF Reloaded capsule collection will be available until the end of the year in selected Fendi boutiques worldwide and on fendi.com, as well as on Toplife and Fendi’s official WeChat account.
The Shanghai event is “a good example of how everything meets. Of course, there are craft and tradition, but they meet people of today, street art and modernity,” said Brunschwig.
He said there were no specific plans for other events following Shanghai. “We always want to do new things. These three stages are great, and symbolic.”
He did highlight the roll out of the #MeAndMyPeekaboo digital campaign, now fronted by Venturini Fendi and her daughters and marking the 10th anniversary of the signature handbag, which will be followed in the second half by other families.