Cover Fendi's Spring/Summer 2021 collection is a Virginia Woolf-inspired collection (Photo: Courtesy of Fendi)

Fendi's Couture Spring/Summer 2021 Collection fuses fashion and literature, taking inspiration from Virginia Woolf and other literary and creative figures

For Kim Jones' debut Fendi collection, he reflects on transcendent romance and timeless creativity, drawing on the renegade British sensibility of the Bloomsbury Group of early 20th century British thinkers and artists, while still paying homage to the storied history of the Roman house. On March 19, the creative director restaged the collection in Shanghai for about 400 people following its debut in Paris in January.

Fendi's Couture Spring/Summer 2021 collection and its seemingly diverse inspiration find common ground, which brings the enduring allure of Virginia Woolf her Bloomsbury Group to life, further explored alongside the eternal language of Italian sculpture and Fendi's most foundational codes.

The collection adopts Virginia Woolf's binary-blurring novels as a central motif and taps onto the love letter written by Woolf to Vita Sackville-West in 1928, only three years after Fendi was founded. Literary motifs also directly interspersed throughout the collection, from the metal-bound book clutches to the lines from the text inscribed into Mother of Pearl minaudières or in the leather boots. Extracts from the Woold and Sackville-West during their decades-long courtship are read aloud by friends and family of Fendi throughout the Max Ritcher composition that scores the show.

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But much of the collection is also personal. Motifs discovered at the Charleston farmhouse—the Sussex some of the Bloomsbury set, located only a short distance from where Jones spent much of his childhood—are revived and recontextualised through ornately beaded boots and hand-painted heels. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant frescoes cover the walls as well as used as embroidered embellishments on gowns.

Jones also channels a fusion of literature through the hand-printed, marble bound books and marble, a classic Italian aesthetic. Mirroring the marble palette of Rome's Galleria Borghese, the details showcase the harmony between the two movements in the woven jacquard on silken gowns, intarsia furs and hand-beaded tailoring. Much of Fendi's own history also appears as a primary source, reflected through Jones' contemporary perspective. He displays the biographies of those who model the cast used to excavate the archives for formative sketches and decoration.

Set in Shanghai, many familiar faces attended the couture show including Fendi China brand ambassador Tan Zhuo, Zhao Tao, Cecilia Chung, Muse Meng, Jike Junyi, Du Juan, Wang Wenqin, Liu Dan, Tong Chenjie, Ju Xlaowen and Jin Dachuan. Guests include Fendi China brand spokesperson Zhao Wei, Fendi China leathergoods spokesperson Zhang Ruoyan and actress Shu Qi all gathered to witness the beginning of a new chapter for the fashion house.

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