Let the sun shine — and set — on a beautiful summer day. If Silvia Venturini Fendi felt any butterflies before presenting her first solo ready-to-wear effort for Fendi after the death of Karl Lagerfeld, she gave no indication backstage before the show. Instead, Venturini Fendi radiated calm while talking emotion, specifically that was triggered by a summer day. “The summer and the sunny days put me in such a different mood, more open to experiences, and I feel more freedom,” she said. “When summer gets closer, my state of mind changes.”
As for how that translates into clothes, Venturini Fendi noted “the emotion of simple things, of real clothes and simple materials that remind me of summer.” It made for an appealing collection packed — really packed — with clothes. If summer means feeling free for the designer, it also means taking an items approach to getting dressed. A Seventies strain ran through the sporty lineup that focused on short skirts and (runway only) short-shorts in combination with a bounty of outerwear pieces, some derived from utilitarian workwear and some, from the bedroom — not as in sexy, but rather, cozy-prim, featuring the kind of pastel quilted nylon robes Mary Tyler Moore surely wore during her Laura Petrie years on “The Dick Van Dyck Show.” (But this is Fendi, so make that silk and nylon.) There was a robust practicality to some (short coats and jackets over skirts) and a zaniness to others (a cardigan over cushiony, quilted long skirts). Both charmed.
As befit her ode to summer, Venturini Fendi worked a colorful palette from barely there pastels to the deep golden hues of the sunset. She also favored fanciful prints, which often looked great, but in aggregate, turned problematic. Up close, there’s no mistaking Fendi’s materials for anything but widely accessible. Ebullient prints are a mainstay of the contemporary market, and here, their abundance dampened the collection’s luxe factor.
Not so the furs. Fendi has been a full rtw house for years, and more recently has expanded its couture range. Sometimes, whether deliberate or not, the fur messaging on the runway had been downplayed. Here, while the extraordinary Fendi R&D resulted in some marvels of the is-it-fur-or-isn’t-it sort, there were also several flamboyant, in-your-face furs — a full-length coat in diagonal stripes of mink and gingham checks; sporty jackets piped in prints, and a cheeky, floral mini in shadow stripes of fur and fabric. Also demonstrative: the fabulous bags, including big basket-weave versions of the Peekaboo in leather and canvas.
Apart from the obvious controversy inherent in showing fur, the visual takeaway was of lighthearted optimism. As the finale track advised, “Let the sun shine.” Indeed.