Italian craftsmanship has long been celebrated at Italian house Fendi. Now, “hand in hand,” a grassroots partnership with local artisans across the whole of the Italian “boot,” is launching to honor this testament. Starting with the baguette handbag, designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi in 1997, local craftsmen and women have created a limited edition of 20 baguettes, the inside pocket of every bag is stamped with the atelier’s name, location, and “Fendi Hand in Hand” in gold. “I am developing a special project with Italian artisans, each one selected from a different Italian region,” says Venturini Fendi. “The first example is the leather Baguette bag that was presented on the Fall/Winter 2020-2021 catwalk. It is made in Tuscany by a man who normally makes small leather goods all by hand in small quantities. He makes everything by himself. It’s made of vegetable leather, very natural, and there is no stitching, it’s just bonded. My aim now is to explore every Italian region and select the best artisans still working today – and then expand the project worldwide.”
The idea of “hand in hand” is one that everyone can relate to today. Who has not depended on the talent of another to push through such challenging times? And yet we can take comfort in relying on artisanal techniques and their value that serve to create such timeless, one-of-a-kind pieces. Human relationships are the only way to ensure the furthering of craft, creativity, and savoir-faire. Hand in hand invites us all to leave aside ego and find glory in the knowledge of community’s shared history.
It is in Tuscany, where Florentine atelier Peroni has crafted small leather goods with vegetable-tanned leather using the technique “cuoio artistico fiorentino” since 1956 that the story continues, from one hand to another. Employing the technique that shapes rigid structures like the tacco coin case, a single piece of leather is molded without lining or stitches, transformed into the glossy baguette frame. Revealing some secrets of its design, Fendi shares that the leather is wet and then placed on a wooden form to create its sculptural shape.
Venturini Fendi didn’t stop in Tuscany, she continued through all the 20 regions of Italy to highlight the human touch behind each bag. In Sardinia, in the hilltop village of Ulassai, the Su Marmuri women’s coop weaves tapestries by hand on manual looms. In the Veneto region, artisans at Luigi Bevilacqua craft opulent Venetian textiles on 18th century looms. For this particular bag, the FF buckle is sculpted in jasper with lizard details. in Puglia, Dodino lace artisans loop and knot thread tatted on wooden shuttles to create flowery designs using a traditional Apulian technique called chiacchierino, which is a nod to the talkative atmosphere among artisans as they work. In central Italy Marche, wicker, leather, and cord are woven as they were in the times of the Renaissance and passed down through generations at Bottega Intreccio. And so continues the exploration of craft, all the way south to Italy, where, on the island of Sicily, in Trapani, master goldsmith Platimiro Fiorenza sets red coral and thus preserves a local art form that has existed since the 12th century, and which is protected by Unesco. Here, the Fendi baguette features a red coral facade made of silver rigid laminated panels. All are precious keepsakes transmitting secrets of the past, showcasing the keys to personal satisfaction in the transmission of hand in hand.