While Kim Jones is indubitably a confident and decisive designer, it’s not only about him: Since arriving at Fendi a year ago, he fully embraced the family, the brand DNA and the whole of its legacy, including the rich and unprecedented contribution of the late Karl Lagerfeld, who designed the Roman house’s fur and ready-to-wear for 54 years.
For spring, he zeroed in on fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, whose work Lagerfeld long admired. In 1983, the German designer conscripted Lopez to design an invitation for his namesake brand — and he also once did a logo for Fendi, which Jones reprised as a repeating script on tights and as a jacquard on boldly striped kimono silk.
“He really instigated a huge amount in fashion,” Jones enthused about Lopez, whose sketching style was said to be the envy of Andy Warhol and David Hockney, and which immediately conveys the hedonistic glamour of the disco era.
Jones traveled to New York to dive into the archive of Lopez and his creative collaborator Juan Romas, plucking brushstroke motifs from late in Lopez’s career, which he blew up on jersey dance dresses and drifting caftans; drawings of women, done up as leather intarsias on handbags and shearling capes, and the liberating spirit of the 1970s.
The long, long Fendi catwalk in Milan was decked with big arches of smoked mirror, and you could imagine the models as modern-day Pat Clevelands, Jerry Halls and Tina Chows making an entrance in Studio 54, hair slicked back or frizzed out and punctuated with a single metal anthurium, or flamingo flower.
Done up mainly in white, the collection was strong on tailoring — the jackets lean and cinched at the waist, and the pants flaring out over strappy sandals. Jones added pintucks here and there so the shapes conveyed the swagger of the ’70s “without being so literal.”
There were fur chubbies that were sometimes recycled fur, sometimes brushed-out shearling, and sometimes feathers — and also HotPants, in shearling with the fluff turned up as little cuffs. Thanks to the luxury and finesse of the Fendi ateliers, and the nimble mind of Jones, none of it felt hackneyed or overtly retro.
During a preview, Jones noted that his first rtw collection for fall 2021 has so far been a hit, with his Fendi First handbag — a soft pouch suspended from a metal F-frame — evaporating in a week, and the shoes and rtw also selling briskly.
Asked why, he replied: “I think it’s because it’s real clothes — not too vintage-y, not too avant-garde — and timeless once you pull the collection apart.…I always think about the consumer first. That’s my priority.”
Not forgetting his collaborators Silvia Venturini Fendi, artistic director of accessories and men’s wear collections, and her daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi, jewelry creative director, who strolled out arm-in-arm with Jones for the runway bow, all smiling.