Fashion Designer Profiles: FENDI

Fashion Bios: IN 1925, the house of FENDI is born with the establishment of the first handbag shop and fur workshop in Via del Plebiscito, Rome. The new FENDI business, led by the young couple Edoardo and Adele Fendi, immediately wins great acclaim for the quality of its products. For the Roman bourgeoisie, a trip to "Fendi at the Plebiscito" becomes a date with a certain prestige. As the business grows, the fur workshops expand and between the 1930s and 40s, the FENDI name, already well known in Rome, becomes famous outside of the capital city.

IN 1946, the five daughters of Edoardo and Adele begin working for the family business, each bringing new energy and ideas. The five sisters develop and propose new products for the leather goods and fur lines. A few years later, the Fendi sisters meet a young rising star making waves in the Paris design circuit: Karl Lagerfeld. In the hands of Lagerfeld, a fashion revolution takes place: the fur is changed, moulded, redesigned and reinterpreted, becoming a fashionable, soft, light item of clothing. The materials also change, and skins that had been forgotten or neglected are used in production once again. At this time the "double F" is designed and becomes an all-important feature.

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IN 1969, FENDI adds an industrial prêt-a-porter collection to the entirely hand-crafted production of its furs. This collection offers the ideas and quality of a limited production, benefiting from the research experience of the haute couture FENDI workshops. In this way, high quality, "designer" furs are obtained at limited costs.

THE FENDI BAG is also transformed, offering new rules governing elegance and practicality, innovation and style. The answer to rigid handbags is the innovative creation of soft, unstructured bags. The leather is printed, woven, dyed and tanned to make it more soft and attractive and so begins the journey of a new generation of FENDI bags. The success of furs and bags leads to the need to offer a complete image of the FENDI style.

IN 1977 the ready-to-wear is launched, a clothing line with the same criteria of careful design and elegance. With the brand's growing success, the house's collections are expanded in 1984. Designed and followed through with extreme care, a range of foulards, ties, gloves, sunglasses, jeans and home furnishings are created. The following year, marks an important stage: for the first time, a museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, opens its doors to celebrate FENDI's sixtieth anniversary and the twenty years of its collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld. The exhibition "FENDI - Karl Lagerfeld, a working history" illustrates the entire creative and technical process involved in producing a new collection. The anniversary and the event are the occasion for the arrival of the first FENDI perfume.

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A FEW YEARS LATER the Selleria, a line made entirely by hand, is rediscovered. Originally created by Adele Fendi, it is re-offered with the same culture and the same techniques. Handbags, travel bags and small leather goods are made from cuoio fiore, hand-finished by master saddlers, in a limited edition series.

THE CREATIVITY OF SILVIA VENTURINI FENDI, the creative director of the house, leads to the FENDI Baguette in 1997. The success of the little bag to be carried under the arm, like the bread of the same name, is an immediate success. More than 600 versions, with different, unusual materials, quickly make it an essential accessory and a collector's item. This becomes a real phenomenon that, in only a few seasons, transforms this bag into a cult object. In the wake of the Baguette, Silvia Fendi follows with the creation of the Spy bag phenomenon in 2005 and the B Fendi bag in 2006.

DURING A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PRERIOD, FENDI joins forces with its new partners, the LVMH Group and Prada. A new industrial and operational organization is established, corresponding with FENDI's ever-expanding international development. The licence agreements are brought to an end, the network of directly run stores is strengthened, and the flagship stores in Paris and London are opened. In 2001, the LVMH Group takes over Prada's share, and the next year, it acquires FENDI's share, becoming the sole majority shareholder in 2004.

IN 2005 FENDI celebrated its eightieth anniversary with the opening of the Palazzo FENDI in Rome. The new headquarters, in the heart of the city, hosts the brand's creative soul: the studios, fur atelier, and the largest FENDI boutique in the world.

ON OCTOBER 19th 2007, at sunset, Fendi was the protagonist of a unique world event: it was the first fashion house to stage a fashion show on the Great Wall of China. 88 models, 44 from China and 44 from around the world, for a catwalk of 88 metres, one of the longest ever (8 is considered a magical number in China). International guests who attended the event, together with Bernard Arnault, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld and Michael Burke, included: Thandie Newton, Kate Bosworth, Zhang Ziyi, and Jeon Do-Yeon.

ON FEBRUARY 29th 2008 IN PARIS, in occasion of the 22 Avenue Montaigne Fendi store opening, a selected audience of 400 guests attended the private concert of 5 Grammy Awards winner Amy Winehouse. Guests from the entertainment, fashion, cinema and art worlds included: Rihanna, Sofia Coppola, Kanye West, Claudia Schiffer, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Hessler, Ludivine Sagnier, Jade Jagger, Milla Jovovich, Gaspard Ulliel, Marisa Berenson, Cecile Cassel, Zoe Cassavetes.

CURRENTLY, Fendi has over 160 boutiques in some 25 countries around the world.

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