Creating Iconic Imagery | Verve Magazine
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April 10, 2015

Creating Iconic Imagery

Text by Shirin Mehta

Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show draws inspiration in its setup from an iconic Roman building from the ’30s and delves further into the orchid motif that had already been presented in the FW 14-15 collection. Verve reports…

  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
    Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi at the SS15 Women’s show
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection
  • Fendi, Fendi’s SS15 Women’s show, FW 14-15 collection

Head designer and creative director, Karl Lagerfeld’s stunning setup at Fendi’s most recent SS15 Women’s show held in Milan drew inspiration from the iconic Palazzo della Civilta Italiana which translates into The Palace of Italian Civilisation which is also sometimes called ‘The Square Colosseum’. This is particularly relevant since, approaching its 90th anniversary in 2015, Fendi is moving its headquarters to this most famous Roman building of the ’30s. It ties in immediately with the House’s appreciation for the city of Rome, witnessed also in its ongoing project to restore Roman fountains called Fendi for Fountains. For detractors who argue that this structure is considered an icon of Fascist architecture, Lagerfeld’s inspirational text on the occasion immediately puts the House’s perspective in place: ‘Fashion and architecture were one of the favoured forms of expressing avant-garde culture in the early decades of the 20th century. The famous Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is a perfect example. The inspiration came directly from de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings from the years just before World War I, now just 100 years ago. The mystery of his arches inspired over 20 years later this Roman landmark building. The past and history here are now beyond ‘good and evil’ as Nietzsche would have said….’

The collection opened with supermodel-of-the-moment, Cara Delevingne in a vivid blue mini dress covered with an orchid print, a continuation from the autumn/winter line, and detailed with subtle parallel insets, a stair-like motif that reappeared throughout the show. A huge leather orchid headpiece drooped from her nape. Hand-sewn embroidery, fur inlays and geometric prints combined to give each look a greater depth, and deceived the eye with their subtle interplay.
Here below, exclusive interviews with Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi on the SS15 collection:

On the setting of the show
The décor is inspired by the famous Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, which was the entrance of the International Fair which never took place because of the war.

It is inspired by the arches in the painting of de Chirico between 1910 and 1914 entitled Le muse inquietanti. We can find his paintings in the Beaubourg and in Italian museums. These paintings represent arches and the inspiration of the architect came from the Metaphysical paintings by de Chirico before World War I.

On the orchids which were already present in the FW 14-15 collection
The difference is that in the last FW season orchids were real and fresh flowers, just like those we can find on the market today. Then, we developed a pattern with orchids and presented it in the Resort 2015.

In the SS15 collection, orchids, which I have restyled and drawn again, do not exist anymore. I bought documents on orchids in Berlin from the archive of the imperial greenhouse of Sansouci in 1880. There was a strange looking orchid, one that had never been seen before and, starting from there, I redesigned a laser cut inspired pattern which you can see, for example, in the hair bands. It is a graphic transposition of a flower that doesn’t exist anymore.

Micro baguettes, bags and Karlitos
I think big bags are very nice, but great if they are animated by something, like the micro bags, so that you can place credit cards outside without any need to ransack. And regarding the small lucky charms inspired by my profile, I found Karlitos really fun! They give creativity, lightness and joy to the bag that could be too serious, which have to be serious, but I think they match well with clothes, colours and shoes. I think the entire collection works and it is coherent.

On mistreating furs, shaving them, putting some plastic on
The summer fur is very pretty when we don’t know what it is, it has to be shaved like velvet, it has to have all the qualities of velvet, but not the ostentation side of the fur. It is not the moment of sable, which I adore.

Adding some drilled plastic…
It is a cover gloss, a new kind of elastic plastic material that can be removable: you can wear the look with or without it. The plastic T-shirt can be worn over a shirt and it looks like water falling down or even spangles. When you actually have a spangle dress, you cannot remove them.

How would you describe the SS 2015 collection?
It is a fresh, urban and young collection, projected into the future. It is a collection with no references to the past, with nothing rehashed, nothing already existing. Forget the past, forget the vintage!

Which is the principal inspiration for this collection?
It is complicated to explain all the inspirations and all the feelings behind it. For sure Rome is an amazing source of inspiration, with its incredible sky…there’s nothing more beautiful! The way it goes from blue to the reds and oranges of the sunset, that’s what informs the collection: lightness, air, the natural world but projected into real life.

And then, Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, that inspired the setting of the show, inspired us and it will be a source of inspiration for the next 15 years. It is a place representing a hymn to work and it will be filled with work. The catwalk itself highlights the newness of the collection; it represents a long road to the future, a whole new path.

What does innovation mean for you?
The innovation is focused on a greater adherence to real life but totally projected towards the future.

How can you manage to propose something always new and significant?
It’s important to remain a beginner, to never be too sure of what you have done. Keeping the same energy is crucial. We never think ‘we are the best’ or ‘we have done everything’.  Every day should be like the first day. I think this is something we learnt from Karl.

What about the 3Baguette and micro-bags?
The new 3Baguette, with the double “F” lock that can appear and disappear with a click, pushing on the vertical bow of the first letter, can be considered a little artwork, such as the micro versions of our Iconic bags, the Baguette and Peekaboo.

This newness is evident in all the pieces of the collection, from clothes to accessories. What about the shoes?
I love so much the shoes in this collection, I think they are so colourful and full of surprise, because every shoe in front looks plain, but then, in the back, there is always something to see: the colour hill or the embroideries, always surprising I would say.

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