“I wanted lightness in the clothes this season,” Fendi’s artistic director Kim Jones says of his fresh approach to the brand’s autumn/winter 2022 haute couture collection. Below, Anders Christian Madsen shares his key takeaways from the show.
Kim Jones debuted a lighter take on haute couture
There was a lightness to the savoir-faire Kim Jones presented for Fendi on Thursday afternoon in Palais Brongniart, which uplifted his take on haute couture with a new freshness. As the show progressed, he quite literally peeled off the layers until the lightness reached a point of near-nudity, with buoyant embroidered overlays floating ethereally over the models’ skin. “It’s pretty light,” he concurred during a preview. “I wanted lightness in the clothes this season, also in terms of how the embroideries were done.” If Jones’s first forays into couture at Fendi were about showcasing his discoveries of the magic made possible by the artisans of this haute institution through multi-layered craftsmanship, this season represented a clean slate, and one that felt like a way of using haute couture as a proposal for ideas that could trickle into real life.
It featured Kata Yuzen motifs from Japan
It all began with a trip to Japan in March, before the borders opened. “I managed to get in. I was so determined,” Jones said, hinting at some next-level string-pulling. “I used to go six times a year. I love it so much. We went to see a number of the suppliers we’ve always worked with on special projects, and I bought all these fragments of 17th-century kimonos. Just pieces of hand-painted silk fabric.” His finds prompted him to contact a family of traditional Kata Yuzen fabric-makers in Kyoto, whom he knew from previous collaborations. “They hadn’t really been working very much because there were no ceremonies in two years. I asked if they would like to do something with us.” The results were a series of beautiful fragment patterns in pastel colors, which Jones worked into column dresses that cut a monastic silhouette for the collection that felt decidedly Fendi.
It was a real-life approach to couture
“With me, when I’m looking at stuff, I’m always thinking past, present, future. The past is the research, the present is now, and the future is the idea of where it’s going to go,” Jones said, referring to the optical white box that framed the show and added the sense of futurism to proceedings, which was also present in his previous haute couture show. It had a simplifying effect on a collection that felt like a real consideration for how haute couture might be used in everyday life – by the lucky few – and, more importantly, how it might serve to push and inspire ideas for ready-to-wear. Take for instance the scalloped embroideries that adorned a two-piece set, which was, essentially, a T-shirt and a slouchy trouser. Along with the Kata Yuzen, these motifs and techniques felt ripe for ready-to-wear adaptation.
Jones gave us daywear couture
Jones also made pragmatic proposals for daywear couture. The two exquisitely-cut tailored looks that opened the show were created from the finest vicuna, a tactility Jones went on to interpret in the knitted dresses that followed. “Loro Piana always send me a piece of vicuna for Christmas. I always make myself a nice tailored coat out of it,” he quipped, but those desires are entirely universal. Of the knitwear, Jones said it was all about creating a super-luxe lightness for real-life (the extravagant kind, in any case). “I wanted to have some light knitwear pieces for, you know, that jet-set lifestyle of the client. They can wear that on the plane and get off and still [feel] fabulous.” Seeing Jones tackle the idea of real-life daywear in his haute couture was great and created a real affinity with his ready-to-wear collections.
Jones has the same birth chart as Karl Lagerfeld
Asked by Suzy Menkes if he’s the new Karl Lagerfeld – what with his multi-faceted work schedule and all – Jones laughed. “I don’t think I’m the new Karl, but I have exactly the same birth chart. I like to work hard.” In the case of this collection, his hard work was in the detail: a subtle, muted and pared-back illustration of the painstaking art form that is haute couture. “Fendi is about a working woman. A woman that’s powerful,” he said, reflecting on the role of the collection in the real world. “I love the colors. I’m really happy with it.”
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk