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ITALIAN ACCENT: “You know, the grass is always greener on the other side,” Fendi chief executive Michael Burke said Saturday night as Fendi feted its new boutique on Sloane Street — having swapped spaces with its Italian neighbor Roberto Cavalli, across the road. “It’s perfect for us and it’s perfect for them. Burke explained that Fendi wished to have less frontage and more square footage, including a lower floor to showcase ready-to-wear and furs. “I wanted a couture space,” he said, explaining that local and deep-pocketed clients in the Knightsbridge area value such discreet environs. But Fendi plans to make a big splash on Bond Street next year when it will open a multi-level palazzo. Burke said the Roman house is taking over a “double townhouse” opposite Sotheby’s and will occupy five floors, the lion’s share for a boutique and the balance for offices.


This story first appeared in the September 19, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

At the opening cocktail on Sloane Street, the Fendi shop resembled a laboratory as first-year product-design students from the Royal College of Art displayed vessels, furniture and objects rendered from elements of Selleria handbags. One group chemically extracted colors from leather which it used to stain flowers — or drip artfully on pure white bags in the window. The project dovetails from Fendi’s ongoing association with industrial designers like Simon Hasan, who headed up the student project. Hasan displayed futuristic-looking Stockmans made of leather he boils to make stiff, employing a technique from medieval times. “It’s interesting to do such a brutal thing to a luxury material,” he grinned.


Later, Burke, Silvia Fendi and her daughter Delfina Delettrez headed over to Mark’s, a private club, for a dinner and surprise acoustic performance by rising star Dionne Bromfield, goddaughter to the late Amy Winehouse and rumored to be performing at opening ceremonies at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “I love performing for more intimate gigs,” said Bromfield.


Later, Jefferson Hack played guest deejay with an eclectic repertoire ran from Dolly Parton to Pet Shop Boys. “Depeche Mode ‘Personal Jesus’ always gets people moving,” he reported. Revelers included Juergen Teller, Francesca Versace, Paloma Faith, Pixie Lott, “Game of Thrones” star Richard Madden and Jaime Winston, joined in the wee small hours by Camilla Al Fayed and Dasha Zhukova. At the dinner, Winston flashed photos of herself with Beyonce Knowles, having attended her House of Dereon fashion show earlier. “I touched her stomach, I did!” she enthused of the expectant Knowles.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, Roberto Cavalli inspected his new boutique during a cocktail party. ”Do you like it?” he asked. “We have put a lot more focus on accessories. People have often said that our accessories are the weakest part of the brand, but look at these, they are wonderful, no?” he boasted. The bags were front and center, arranged in dark wood cabinets or glass-topped tables, flanked by rtw, with evening gowns at the back of the store. There is a lot of money in London,” Cavalli enthused. “And the great thing about it is they’re not afraid to show it. And I like people who show their money — that’s my work!


Guests included Rosario Dawson, who was poured into a purple strapless dress. Eva Herzigova arrived in a flurry or feathers and fur, joining the likes of Ronnie Wood, Christina Blahnik and Elizabeth Von Guttman. Bianca Jagger was resplendent in a leopard print caftan. “I don’t dress up all that often but when I do I like it to be either a caftan by Cavalli or a perfectly cut suit by Calvin Klein,” she said. “They always make me feel good, but when you get older you realize that what you’re wearing isn’t as important as what you believe in or how you feel inside your skin. That’s the secret to growing old gracefully.”  

Later, Kelis blasted out hits including “Milkshake” and “Trick Me” to an exuberant crowd at the Battersea power station. The room was decked out with animal print seating and a bountiful buffet of Italian food. He really knows how to do it in style, doesn’t he?” chirped designer Lara Bohinc as she made her way to the stage to watch a series of gravity-defying and sexually charged performances from the people at The Box, “I’ve never seen anything like this in London, probably never will again!”

Other guests enjoying the Bacchanalian delights included Tali Lennox, Sir Philip Green, Lady Victoria Hervey, Vidal Sassoon, Edie Campbell, Patrick Grant, and Victoria’s Secret model Ana Beatriz Barros. As Stephen Jones put it when he arrived to the party, “It’s all about exuberance, lust for life, la dolce vita. Come to a party like this and you’ll see that Italians really do do it better.”


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