“I never wanted them to go into the business,” Adele Fendi told WWD in 1974. “I told them how many sacrifices one had to make, how hard it was.” As for “them”? Fendi sisters Paola, Franca, Anna, Carla and Alda, of course. While the house was originally built in 1918, it wasn’t until the five siblings took hold decades later and hired Karl Lagerfeld that the company became the luxury powerhouse it is today. WWD spoke to them all, including mamma Adele, for a lively interview that ran on May 31. While Carla clearly was the talker of the pack — “If all Italian women worked, they could fulfill themselves instead of suffocating their children and turning into fossils,” she quipped — everyone had plenty to say. Here, select quotes from the Fendi crew.
Carla: “All the manufacturers hate being told what to do by young girls, and they told mother she was crazy to let us do so. But she only allowed us the first mistake. We had to learn from our errors.”
Paola: “Mamma braided our hair every morning, four braids apiece — that’s 20 braids — imagine.”
Anna: “Gucci was tops in his way, so I had to think of his weakness. He never did anything soft.…We decided to do a summer bag…and we hit on weaving strips of binding canvas. There were more of those bags than there were people on the Via Veneto. It was almost embarrassing.”
Adele: “What I want is to close the whole thing up while things are still beautiful. It’s too much work for my daughters, and if I close it before I die, they won’t have to work anymore. I’ll shoo them all home to live quietly with their husbands.”
Alda: “We never stop. I like every aspect.”
Franca: “Except shoes — we all hate shoes.”