MILAN – Fendi is opening the doors of its Roman headquarters, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, to the public to showcase an exhibition celebrating Italian artisans’ most exquisite creativity and talent.
Starting on Saturday, visitors will have access to the building’s first level, where Fendi has installed the “Hand in Hand” exhibit, which will be open until Nov. 28.
The showcase collects 20 one-of-a-kind Fendi Baguette bags that the brand’s artistic director for accessories and men’s wear Silvia Venturini Fendi developed in collaboration with 20 ateliers and workshops, each located in an Italian region, from Trentino Alto Adige and Valle d’Aosta to Calabria and Sicily. Precious metals, stones, molded leather, as well as special techniques, including mosaic, hand embroidery and weaving, were employed to craft the exclusive designs.
“This successful project enabled us to map the incredible artisans operating in our country,” Venturini Fendi said. “It has been a sort of full-time job but extremely rewarding. We had the chance to meet fantastic people and, since there is such a richness in Italy and we are receiving so many requests from ateliers from all the regions, we decided to go ahead with the project and do a second round.”
The first iteration of the “Hand in Hand” project,” first unveiled in 2020, “is a new starting point for us,” said the designer, adding that the Baguette, the iconic bag she designed in 1997, will remain the protagonist of the initiative. “The Baguette is our most versatile design, the most suitable to millions of interpretations.”
The exhibit offers an immersive experience, combining the celebration of traditions with a strong high-tech component. A 98.4-foot polished black table showcases each bag in an installation that also includes sketches, materials and technical tools, while a screen embedded into each workstation streams a documentary offering exclusive insight into each atelier. Behind the table is a giant LED wall showcasing behind-the-scene videos of the project and revealing the secrets of the artisans involved.
“While this upcoming weekend the artisans will be physically present at the exhibition, greeting visitors at their workstations, in the following weeks, they will be able to connect with us from the ateliers popping up on the LED wall,” Venturini Fendi explained. “We expect a lot of people to visit the exhibition, including students. We hope that through this project we will be able to communicate the important message that training to become an artisan should not be seen as a fall-back, but as an incredible opportunity to express creativity and create art.”
Venturini Fendi also highlighted the further social impact of this initiative. “We collected so many anecdotes along out trip across Italy, but there is something that I think has a particular relevance,” the designer said. “After working on the project with us, the young owner of Marche’s Bottega Intreccio in Mogliano, which is specialized on weaving willow branches, was informed by the mayor of the town that the municipality will return to plant willow trees. This is a great achievement for us, since this reflects the most authentic spirit of the initiative.”
Over the years, Fendi has paid great attention to the preservation and evolution of the Italian artisanal heritage.
Along with showing great commitment to the education and training of young talent through the Massoli Academy in Rome, which trains new tailors, and the participation in the LVMH Institut des Métiers d’Excellence training program, Fendi also operates an internal school in Bagno a Ripoli where the students train in an area equipped with modern machinery and work tools that are used in the practical activities that make up 80 percent of the program, while there’s a meeting room for the remaining 20 percent, dedicated to theoretical training. The newly planned Fendi Factory in Bagno a Ripoli will have even bigger spaces dedicated to this.
Unveiling the secrets behind the creation of its luxury products, Fendi also participated to the LVMH’s Journées Particulières initiative for years through a unique exhibition showing live the work of its artisans — from couture to ready-to-wear, fur, leather goods and shoes to watches and furniture pieces.