Cover Kim Jones (Photo: Courtesy of Fendi)

Known for his menswear, the British designer proved equally adept in designing for women for his runway debut at Fendi

Kim Jones' debut collection for Fendi as a womenswear designer tapped the bohemian, literary world of Virginia Woolf on Wednesday, bringing bookish glamour to his first haute couture runway show.

The celebrated British menswear talent, a veteran of Dior and Louis Vuitton, has taken up the mantle of Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019 after more than 50 years at the helm of the Italian brand.

Fendi, part of the LVMH group, named Jones last September, in a move expected to inject a strong dose of British cool into the brand known for its Roman flair and unapologetic use of fur.

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Last Wednesday's show, held live at the Palais Brongniart in Paris but with only a virtual audience, featured supermodel Kate Moss and her daughter Lila Grace.

The A-list line-up also included Demi Moore, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cara Delevingne and Bella Hadid, who sauntered down the elaborate, modern runway, pausing to pose in glassed-in garden enclosures.

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The spring-summer 2021 collection channelled the early 20th century—flowing capes, high collars and elaborate embroidery—with an added modern vibe.

Jones said he was inspired by the Bloomsbury Group, the collective of London writers and intellectuals who included the modernist Woolf, for a collection in which "exquisite femininity and masculine androgyny appear as fluid choices rather than innate realities".

Both male and female models—some holding books—showcased the womenswear collection, marked by plunging black satin decolletages, elaborate beading and elongated silhouettes.

A diaphanous grey silk tunic paired with tight python boots combined the ethereal with the animal, as the high Victorian collar of a gown in damask rose showed off bare shoulders in a daring combination.

In his show notes, Jones quoted Woolf's Orlando: "Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us."

He paid tribute to his predecessor, with monograms taken from Lagerfeld's final collection beaded onto boots, as well as to the Fendi family. Also among the models were Leonetta and Delfina Fendi, the daughters of Silvia Venturini Fendi, the granddaughter of the brand's founders who still heads up the menswear and accessories lines.

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