Kim Jones’s Fendi couture debut is an homage to “strong women, intelligent women, who know what they’re doing in their lives. Pioneering women, like the Bloomsbury women, like the women in the show,” the designer told British Vogue’s Olivia Singer during an exclusive preview. The multi-layered spectacle, inspired by feminist literary icons and four generations of Fendi women alike, is a celebration of everything Jones stands for as a designer.
Here, five things to know about his fusion of British romance and Italian grandeur.
Kim Jones drew inspiration from the pioneering Bloomsbury Group
With a rich tapestry of disparate cultural experiences to draw from, during a youth spent between England and Africa, Jones landed on Firle, a quaint village in East Sussex. Specifically, Charleston, the modernist home of the Bloomsbury Group. “I like how this family of people – and particularly these two pioneering sisters, Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf – moved things forward,” explains Jones. “I admire the way that they lived their lives, the freedom that they created for themselves and the art that they left behind for the world.” His deeply personal Fendi couture debut marries the romantic British sensibility of the Bloomsbury set with the heritage of the Italian house in a collection that’s rich with references. The most breathtaking? The embroidered embellishments on gowns, inspired by Charleston’s painted murals and realised in thousands of bouquets of organza petals and Murano glass beaded flowers.
An exhibition of Bloomsbury Group books and ephemera complements the show
The show’s accompanying literary exhibition, curated by Sammy Jay of Peter Harrington Rare Books, sheds more light on the parallels between the Bloomsbury Group and Fendi’s Rome HQ (Bell, for example, channelled her love for Italian Classicism into frescoes of the Borghese gardens on the walls of Charleston). From a rare first edition of resident Charlestonian TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, to the first ever copy of Woolf’s Orlando read by Vita Sackville-West, the paramour who inspired the novel, the curiosity cabinets will delight anyone who has ever pored over Woolf’s time-travelling explorations of gender and identity – once it is open to the public, that is. “I wanted to look at different points of time in Fendi – which is why Orlando came into my head,” Jones told British Vogue of the formative influence of the seminal literary love letter. “I wanted to pull out points of reference from Karl [Lagerfeld, former Fendi womenswear creative director], but renew them. To look at them in a lighter way, to see them with a new eye, but without it appearing nostalgic.”
The casting was major
Jones’s female fan base, from Bella Hadid and Cara Delevingne to Naomi Campbell, naturally came together for their friend’s career-defining fashion show. Leading the charge were Kate Moss and her daughter Lila Grace; and Adwoa Aboah, another muse behind Jones’s Fendi vision, and her sister Kesewa. “What I love most about Kim is his ability to bring family wherever he goes,” says Aboah. “He keeps such a wide range of people around him – artists, musicians, the youth, everyone – which is why his work continues to remain so relevant.” Rounding out the cast? Demi Moore, Christy Turlington and her nephew, James.
The Fendi family walked through a Fendi maze
The Mosses, Turlingtons and Aboahs walked between a grid of interlocking Fs before standing in individual glass units – some of which bloomed with flowers in homage to Sissinghurst Garden Castle, which once belonged to Sackville-West. Others housed giant Stone Pines – the parasol-shaped trees commonly found in Rome – while a number were grounded by glossy marble floors inspired by the Borghese gallery. Adding to the atmospheric quality of the live stream was the supremely moving Max Richter soundtrack. The British-German composer enlisted Silvia Venturini Fendi – who expressed how happy she is to be working with Jones – Isabella Rossellini, Christina Ricci, Moss and Aboah to read passages of love letters from Vita and Virginia, before soundtracking them to new music inspired by Woolf’s body of work. This complete ode to the pioneering Bloomsbury women and the individuals walking in the show could not have been more detailed.
Kate Moss consulted on the accessories
“Kate has such immaculate taste – she’s seen everything, and her knowledge of fashion is so vast,” Jones said of the “logical” decision to appoint Moss as a Fendi accessories consultant. From the blush silk boots hand-embroidered with beads, micro-pearls and glass micro-sequins, to the Murano glass and crystal ear cuffs – the fruits of jewellery creative director Delfina Delettrez Fendi’s work – painstakingly crafted accessories added an exquisite artistic element to the collection, while remaining wearable. As Kate herself says, “What Kim does is always very cool and modern. He knows exactly what people want to wear.”
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk