Fendi’s best asset, as Kim Jones knows, is the Fendi women themselves, mother and daughter Silvia Venturini and Delfina Delettrez. Backstage today Jones explained that the genesis of his new fall collection was seeing Delfina in the Rome office wearing a blouse of Silvia’s from a 1986 Fendi collection by Karl Lagerfeld when he was in his Memphis phase.
“I took it off her back and put it on the research rail,” he said. Jones recolored the print and collapsed the more obviously ’80s proportions of that show’s tailoring into separates, some in menswear fabrics, others in denim.
Then, because he was after lightness, he combined those references with a callback to another Lagerfeld-designed Fendi collection for spring 2000, one with a delicacy in direct opposition to the blousy proportions of the ’86 show. An editor who was in Lagerfeld’s audience 22 years ago clocked the reference right away.
Naturally, Jones updated these looks too, starting by layering them over matching flutter-edged underpinnings. Jones is in many ways like Lagerfeld, an enthusiastic collector with a capacious mind for references, and he’s bringing all that to bear on Fendi. The job before him is at least in part to woo a new generation to the label; Lagerfeld, though he never lost touch with the young, was in his position for 54 years.
Nominating that spring 2000 collection for a re-see couldn’t be a coincidence, what with that era being newly relevant to people who didn’t experience it the first time. But Jones has done it with finesse, avoiding any of the retro allusions seen on so many other runways.
As he’s shown time and again at Dior Men, he’s an exacting and imaginative tailor. Here, his tweed jackets were cut lean and longish with softly shaped waists or cropped right below the rib cage, the collars turned up against the neck. Trousers were high-waisted and leg-elongating, but for every pair of pants, there was a pair of shorts, often offset with a waist-defining half-apron or topped by a corset.
Because Delfina came out for the group bow in a narrow, 3/4-length skirt (she’s the artistic director of jewelry for Fendi), it’s worth paying extra attention to that silhouette. Its womanly sensibility offered a counterpoint to the more youthful pieces elsewhere.
Jones has landed at Fendi at an opportune time. The Baguette bag, made famous by Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw but beloved by fashion insiders years before its first appearance on that influential show, turns 25 this year—gasp! An archivist by nature, Jones is bound to go big for the anniversary at precisely the moment when the fashion cycle (and another Carrie Bradshaw-fronting TV show) is sparking interest in the It bag among a new generation.
The timing really couldn’t be better. And in Delfina and her younger sister Leonetta, Jones has ideal muses. “What they wear is what Silvia wore when she was younger, and she’s very cool and they’re very cool; seeing how it’s generational is very inspiring. They’re obsessed by clothes and details, having those women around you when you’re working is a real joy.”