LOS ANGELES — Call it perhaps one final notch on his belt, but Pietro Beccari departs Fendi with one more project solidifying Fendi’s roots in Rome.
The outgoing ceo, who takes up the reins as chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture next year, was in Los Angeles for a private preview and dinner Sunday evening at The Getty Center to celebrate Monday’s launch of the Caravaggio Research Institute and an exhibit that’s brought three pieces by 16th-century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio to Los Angeles from the famed Galleria Borghese.
“We are very proud of this because normally a collaboration is such where you just pay for an exhibition and dinner,” Beccari told WWD. “I think the meaning of having a long-term partnership over three years is something that’s never been done in Italy. It makes us particularly proud. That’s the first aspect. The second aspect is that Fendi is linked to Rome and we did our best in the last years to tie the name of Rome to the name of Fendi in quite a strong way.”
Fendi said in September it inked a three-year deal with the Roman art museum Galleria Borghese, which would establish a traveling exhibition celebrating Caravaggio via the establishment of the Caravaggio Research Institute. The Getty Center officially kicks off the partnership with its exhibition running through Feb. 18 and is a rare opportunity to see the pieces outside of Rome.
“The exhibition was born exactly to promote this project all around the world,” said Galleria Borghese director Anna Coliva, who was also in town for the preview. “This [is] the first time… three pieces of Caravaggio [have] went out of the museum because they are too important to move.”
Fendi, under Beccari, has seen a raft of projects that have sought to solidify the brand’s Roman heritage, including restoration of the Trevi Fountain. The company in 2015 relocated headquarters to the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana and last year revealed the Palazzo Fendi store, hotel and restaurant in a move reflecting the lengths to which brands must go to prove their allegiance to a lifestyle they aim to serve.
“It’s a way, really, of giving back to our city that has been so generous to us in terms of inspiration and to support culture and the beauty of Italian culture,” Fendi creative director of accessories and men’s wear Silvia Venturini Fendi said.
Both she and Beccari next turn their attention to finalizing the men’s collection. Venturini Fendi, who has been designing the house’s men’s line since 2000, said the collection will continue to evolve as it grows, something she said has been happening organically each year.
“I like very much to work on men’s because you get to work on detail,” she said. “Men’s fashion has changed a lot and it’s opened up the freedom so you can really express much more in men’s because there’s a new point of view that has been really growing in men’s not only at Fendi but in general.”
Certainly the confluence of high-fashion houses with sneaker culture and the broader streetwear category has been part of that shift, something Venturini Fendi said is a reflection of the current state of the world.
“It’s what’s happening in reality,” she said. “There’s been some codes that have been broken and probably they won’t come back. There is a more relaxed way and a more free way of dressing, which is interesting. It’s difficult [to see going] back to strict formalwear for men’s. Streetwear is related to sports and comfortable clothes that you can perform in. It’s very much linked to our way of life today.”
Staying up on trends or striking a deal with a cultural institution such as Galleria Borghese, they’re all related pieces of the much larger ship Beccari has steered since he began leading Fendi in 2012.
“I’m a firm believer that clients like to share the set of values that a brand proposes and they do not just want to go there, buy a wallet and go home,” he said. “They want to hear stories and I think Fendi has many fantastic stories to tell…. I think these stories make the brand stronger and make clients curious and I believe convert them and loyalize them to the brand….I’m not sure that everybody thinks the same as me, but I do think that all that we are doing is very genuine and I think that authenticity is recognized by the public and appreciated by the public. Ads are important but to promote an image of a brand, it’s fundamental nowadays to give different facets of the same diamond. The diamond being a luxury brand and to have each facet shine in its own light is very important.”
The pieces in aggregate, he said, become that much more crucial in telling a brand story as the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive.
“Honestly, we’re in a very challenging period for luxury brands but at the same time it’s very exciting for the client because in order to [meet] goals you need to be better than [the competition] and get their market share,” Beccari said. “To do that, there is a rush to innovate faster than the competition, to be better at innovation, to collaborate in surprising types of partnerships…So the last few years I’ve assisted with an acceleration of the buzz on the brand, which is positive, but also can be a boomerang because if you’re not good enough it could come back and what’s good today is not good the day after tomorrow.”
To that end, the accelerated rate of change requires flexibility and not thinking too far out so as to become rigid. For now, Beccari said he turns his attention to the upcoming holiday selling period and making sure Fendi ends the year on a positive note and then he noted “Of course, in February we think about the other brand, but Dior will have time so now I want to finish well with Fendi.”
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