Like two romantic poets hopelessly in love with the garden — from greenery, roses and vegetables, right down to dirt, watering cans and pruning shears — Silvia Fendi and her old friend and collaborator Luca Guadagnino wrote an ode to nature for spring with this unexpectedly elegant collection.
It takes some talent to make khaki cotton overalls, fisherman style vests and cargo pants appeal. The same goes for sun hats with back flaps and rubber webbed garden shoes. But they managed to do so with a collection filled with sheer fabrics, knits woven into trellis patterns and a light touch on everything from bags to coats to fur, in a gardener’s palette of olive, pea, corn and dusty rose.
The mood was dreamy and sensual, with a special soundtrack made by Ryuichi Sakamoto and a backdrop of backdrops, the verdant expanse behind Milan’s Villa Reale. Models wove their way around the garden’s pebbled, tree-lined path, carrying Fendi bags shaped like watering cans, others made from trellis-like nets and handmade straw totes, while little gardening tool keychains dangled from buckles and straps.
Guadagnino’s botanical prints — hand drawn on an iPad while the director was making his latest film, the scary, gory “Suspiria” — added even more whimsy, as a barely there print on sheer trousers or flap-pocket jackets, a camou pattern on fishing vests or a lush wash of green leaves over a raincoat.
Some of his botanicals came fused with checks, as in a tailored shorts suit or as a digital print over a breezy, elongated shirt. Guadagnino said even before the Fendi collaboration kicked off he drew them as an escape from the darkness of “Suspiria.”
“I fantasized about my beloved idea of gardening and the outdoors. It was a way out for me. I was trying to make myself feel lighter,” Guadagnino said. “’Suspiria’ was done in muted colors — actually no colors — and is very dark and these are very garish, bright prints. It’s always a beautiful way to release, to fantasize about the things you like and you want to do for yourself.”
Fendi, who chooses a creative collaborator every season, said she’s devoted to the roses and vegetables in her garden outside Rome. “It’s where I go every weekend, every free day. It’s a privilege, and we also have a vegetable garden in our headquarters at Palazzo della Civiltà, in Rome,” she said.
Asked about the sustainability conversation in fashion, and how the collection fits into that, Fendi said “people feel the need to go back to nature and back to craftsmanship, to work with their hands, put their hands in the earth. I think it’s something that reconnects you to the real world.”
With the fantasy botanicals, romantic spin on workwear and handbag charms, this collection didn’t really belong to the real world, and that was the beauty of it. Who doesn’t dream of a garden paradise?