How the Fashion World Stood Still at the Fendi Couture Fall/Winter 2021 Show
Mood: We are silent spectators on an astral sartorial sojourn. Fade in: An empty colosseum comes into light before fading to black. Where are we? Where have we seen this place before? A burst from a company of contrabassoons then jolt us, as the haunting yet familiar catlike peepers of fashion’s most famous waif comes into soft focus, before fading out. And it is in this exact fashion that we are introduced to Fendi Couture’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection.
Directed by the critically acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker Luca Guadagnino—of Call Me By Your Name fame and a personal friend of the couture house’s artistic director Kim Jones—the entire Paris Couture Week has culminated in this exquisite fashion flick. Coincidentally, it was also filmed at the famous Cinecittà Studios—just a stone’s throw from where the English designer has built his own Roman empire at the Fendi headquarters. And in our time of austerity, his—might we also add, incredibly cinematic—second couture collection for the Italian house is the only respite we need.
Paulina Porizkova’s particularly unexpected white full-length evening coat that opened the video gave us goosebumps from the very start. The pointed lapel with the gentle baroque marbling elevated and furthered Fendi’s finery for an even more sophisticated couture audience. But it was Senegalese-Italian beauty Maty Fall’s look that caught Tatler Singapore’s attention.
Like a regal monarch, Fall appears out of nowhere and ascends a flight of concrete steps in a ghostly embroidered trompe l’oeil column with swirling slivers of silk that sensually scale up to her neck before plunging down her back. She pauses and gazes wistfully into the lens of Guadagnino’s camera; her intentionally mismatched Delfina Delettrez Fendi logo earrings—made to look like elegant Roman vases—sway ever so gently in a breeze before she disappears out of frame, leaving a lonely trail of silk in her wake. Chills.
And as a modest violin solo soon builds to an arresting operatic crescendo that properly takes our breath away, Rianne Van Rompaey enters from stage right and saunters hypnotically towards the camera in a gown—so beautiful—it will melt your heart and pocket. Sweeping past white columns, a majestic cloud of billowing feathers in the form of a bishop sleeved formal evening number. Oh, we do so appreciate a virtuous ensemble! We also shudder at the thought of the number of artisans—and the amount of time—it must have taken to marry each feather with this confection. The camera frame then snaps tight to a close up of Van Rompaey raising her right brow and jump cuts into a different look. Chills. Again.
From England to the Eternal City—it is especially evident in Jones’s latest body of work that he has fully acclimatised to Rome. And in a collection so harmonious, even the accessories are bona fide standouts in their own right. Do not get us started on the Silvia Venturini Fendi arm candies. Veritable objets d’art, those precious minaudières with mother-of-pearl mosaics—that even extended to the surface decoration of various heavenly tulle dresses and jackets—are things of beauty that sparkled like Italian frescos in your hands. Oh, the camp! Oh, the candour! Even Venturini Fendi’s heels celebrated the grammar of good taste. Mimicking the grand arches of the Fendi Palazzo’s iconic Mussolini commissioned headquarters, these footwear will let their affluent owners walk in history as they make new ones.
And suddenly the video all made sense.
We are in a stylised incarnation of the Square Colosseum. And the wonderful wandering women are the breadth of Fendi’s creative impact in fashion. We are not spectators, but guests in Jones’ new house in Rome. And you know what they say about when in Rome.