India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Screen + Sound + Stage
October 10, 2013

Fashion On Reels

Text by Neha Gupta.

Art is often associated with luxury brands, but Neha Gupta finds that Fendi’s cinematic stream also reels out style

  • Fendi, Fashion
    On the sets of La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano, 1998
  • Fendi, Fashion
    Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001
  • Fendi, Fashion
    A still from Evita, 1996
  • Fendi, Fashion
    Madonna in Evita, 1996
  • Fendi, Fashion
    Monica Vitti photographed in 1969
  • Fendi, Fashion
    A still from Mai Dire Mai, 1983

Fendi and motion pictures go back to a little short of a time-frame that completes half a century. The milestone was celebrated at the opening of the Fendi Milan Montanapoleone store in September, with the launch of a special project to celebrate cinema with the label itself.

It was in 1974 when the brand tasted cinema’s bleeding splendour. Italian director Luchino Visconti, known to be gripped by the costumes for each of his characters, depended on Fendi to exclusively create some grand ensembles for Gruppo Di Famiglia In Un Interno. A Fendi catwalk show inspired costume designers Piero Tosi and Umberto Tirelli to fashion an entire Fendi wardrobe for Visconti’s cinematic character. Some pieces like the cropped astrakhan jacket by Tosi were made to fit the actress’ body to her last micro inch. This design then reappeared in the brand’s Autumn Winter 2010 collection. There was one belt in particular for a certain trench coat, which Visconti insisted on being just so because an entire camera shot would depend on it. What he had in mind was to zoom out from a close-up shot of this accessory that clinched the actress’ waist.

Fendi has since dressed iconic beauties in its furs and accessories, a trend that continues even today. Then again, its furs were never always used in a conforming style on screen though – probably because they have been perceived as ‘freewheeling extravagant’ by Carla Fendi herself. No wonder they have been seen to be employed beyond the limitations of straight clothing.

A tango with this medium of art, since that time, heightened Fendi’s already soaring luxury quotient. Today the project anticipates a restoration of the movie with a special documentary that holds extra content. It will be known as, Conversation Piece. Italian movie director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino will manage the cinematic process to perfection. To emphasise on how much this movie means to the label, there is also a special book for the project. With its penchant for everything majestic, its exhibition, ‘Making Dreams – Fendi and the Cinema,’ returned glamour to Manzoni cinema that was in torpor for seven years and reopened its doors just for the trademarked yellow colour. Exhibition curators Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda created seven modules of several forms and design, each devoted to a different aspect of Fendi’s relationship with cinema.

Three years after its initial affair with the glitzy screen, in 1977 Fendi then made its own film – the first ever in the history of fashion. Perhaps they set the trend for the thrilling cinematography we see in high-street fashion’s advertisements today. The 27 minutes short film opens with a close-up shot of model Suzie Dyson’s feet in white shoes sauntering through a revolving door. She strides down Rome’s neatly macadamised pathways as a tourist in Fendi’s summer wear. Some shots show her bathing in the city’s fountains – basking in Fendi’s brazen swim suits of the time. Bags and shoes, of course, also enjoy screen presence for frames that last up to five to six seconds. It is a beautiful amalgamation of Italy’s picturesque panorama and swanky, yet effortless appeal. One could say the movie was something like an alternative to a catwalk. It sure was a shining moment for Suzie to be known as Fendi’s face then – starring in the one of its kind, Histoire D’Eau.

About two decades later, the Fendi family’s third generation member, Silvia Venturini Fendi, together with director Luca Guadagnino, and producers Carlo Antonelli, Marco Morabito and Massimilano Violante founded a production house in 2007 – First Sun. Under this banner they are known to have produced six films till date. All films explore their international scope by taking heavily from techniques of Italian cinema. Their filmography, very predictably, relied on fashion. A few months ago Fendi successful twiddled with another cinematic undertaking – Adele’s Dream – with the focus on a bag of the namesake from its Selleria line. Guadagnino described it as a thriller of desire.

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