Italian house of furs and leather goods. One of the first brands of the Made in Italy movement to become world famous. The company was established in Rome 1925, as a small shop for leather goods, and a secret fur workshop, on via del Plebiscito. The founders, Edoardo and Adele Fendi, developed the brand, but the true success started with the second generation, represented by five sisters, Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda. They brought new energy and ideas during the boom years that caused the brand to flourish.
Karl Lagerfeld Creative Director
In 1926 Fendi opened its historic boutique in the heart of Rome in via Borgognona. In 1965, the collaboration with Karl Lagerfeldbegan. Lagerfeld is known for the way he transformed the concept of fur. He reinvented a garment that had traditionally been considered pompous, bulky, and not always easy to wear. With Lagerfeld as creative director, fur acquired a softness, wearability, reversibility, and became “fun fur”, a staple in the brand DNA that still exists today. At the same time, he searched for new materials, treatments, experimental techniques, and the rediscovery of forgotten and overlooked furs.
Over the years the Fendi bags became more functional. Leather was printed, dyed, and woven. The double FFs, in black and brown, were immediately recognizable and combined with stripes and squared patterns. The Selleria line, all completely handmade and in limited numbers, was created.
The Third Generation
In 1977 Fendi presents the Maison’s first ready-to-wear collection. In the early Ninties, the third generation, represented by Silvia Venturini Fendi, daughter of Anna, took place as Creative Director for accessories and men’s lines. She launched the Fendissime line, which included furs, sportswear, and accessories for a younger market. Two years later, they opened their first store in New York on Fifth Avenue. Meanwhile, the empire of the five sisters enriched itself with numerous licenses, including knitwear, bathing suits, jeans, umbrellas, watches, eyeglasses, ceramics, furnishings, and linens. In total, about twenty licenses, besides furs and leather goods.
At this time, about 80% of the production was exported. In Italy and abroad there were about 100 boutiques and 600 points-of-sale, with a turnover of about 600 billion liras, which put Fendi in fourth place among the brands of Italian prêt-à-porter. Fendi has created furs for both stage and screen, notably for Gruppo di Famiglia in un interno (1974) and The Innocent (1976) by Visconti, La vera storia della Dama delle Camelie (1980) by Bolognini, La Traviata (1983) by Zeffirelli, Interno Berlinese (1985) by Liliana Cavani, Carmen (1986), The Age of Innocence (1993) by Scorsese, and Evita (1996) by Parker.
LVMH Acquires Fendi
By the end of 1999, the company is at the center of many buying appetites. After endless sales rumors, the Maison ran under the control of Prada and Bernard Arnault, who was the owner of LVMH. LVMH, in a joint venture with Prada (Lvp Holding), acquires 51% of the company, but management remains in the hands of the Fendi family. Later on, Prada began selling its shares to LVMH, becoming in 2001 its majority shareholder.
In January 2001, Fendi collaborated in a joint venture with Aoi, a 30 years distributor of the brand in Japan. The new company, called Fendi Japan K: K, is on the market from the spring-summer 2001 collection.
Since 2002, the Men’s collection has been produced for 5 years by Ma.co. Company of So. Lather this year, they launched the made-to-order service for handmade leather goods including the famous Peekaboo bag. This gives the customers an opportunity to fully customize their bag, seen as a true luxury.
Fendi continues to stay involved with contemporary events including the exhibit Goddess, at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most prestigious events in New York that spring, displays two dresses donated by the Fendi Archive in 2003.
Also, a special moment in April 2005 in Rome, the 18th-century palazzo Boncompagni Ludovisi becomes Palazzo Fendi. They build a new headquarters, and with its opening, the house celebrates their 80th anniversary. Later, in 2010 they launch kids wear and Fendi Home.
In the year of 2007, Fendi staged an unforgettable fashion show at the Great Wall of China with 88 models and a 1,500-mile-long catwalk.
The opening of a new boutique in Paris in 2008, however, took place with a private concert of Amy Winehouse for just 400 guests.
The Recent Years
This Italian house continues to get involved with new project and innovations. In 2011, they were chosen, due to its common values of craftsmanship and tradition, to collaborate with the Maserati “GranTurismo Convertible”. It was overlooked by Silvia Venturini Fendi and featured materials created in various colors specifically for it. It had Fendi’s double F logo stitched into the seats, in the center of the 20-inch Trident design alloy wheels, and side sills.
In 2013 the group started the restoration work of the fountains in Rome with the Fendi For Fountains project. They began with the Trevi Fountain, and followed up with the Quattro Fontane. This showed how Rome and Fendi share a deep connection. Fendi is rooted in Rome, and has always been its muse. Later, in June 2013 they sign a contract with Safilo Group S.p.A. for the production and worldwide distribution of sunglasses and eye-glasses’ frames.
As for 2014, the brand took another step towards technology. Unveiling luxurious new headphones created in collaboration with Beats by Dr. Dre. The Fendi X Beats by Dr. Dre was announced in Fendi’s Men’s Spring/Summer 2015 fashion show in Milan. Later, the brand collaborated with Zaha Hadid to create a layered leather handbag, which was part of the 3Baguette Project, a collection of creations by famous UK-based women, to be auctioned to charity.
For the first time ever, the Maison uses drones in order to video record its fashion show in 2014. Later, the fashion house buys 49% of Taramax SA’s shares, a luxury-watches- specialized business. This action will allow them to have a more important presence in the luxury-watches market.
Celebrating 50 Years of Collaboration with Lagerfeld
In 2015, under the wings of Lagerfeld, Fendi presented their first “Haute Forrure” collection during couture week in Paris. Fendi’s internationally renowned line of fur helped to differentiate the brand form its competitors as one of the few designers with a full range of fur offerings.
Later, Fendi moved its headquarters into Palazzo Civilta Italiana, which was built in 1942, to celebrate the EXPO. Unfortunately, the event was never held, but the first floor of the new building has remained a dedicated space for contemporary art exhibitions.
In the same year, Fendi payed homage to its collaboration with Lagerfeld, celebrating his 50 years as creative director, with the book “Fendi by Karl Lagerfeld” featuring exclusive material telling an amazing story of heritage, creativity, and modernity. This is the longest relationship between a designer and a luxury fashion brand in the industry.
In 2016 they completed the restoration and opening of Palazzo Fendi in Rome, on the corner of Via dei Condotti and Piazza di Spagna. The building hosts the Japanese multi-starred Zuma restaurant inside. At the 2nd floor, there is the Fendi Privé, a private apartment for celebrities, VIPs, and friends. At the 3rd floor, there is the Fendi Private Suites, which consists of 7 imperial suites.
For their 90th anniversary, on July 7, 2016 they host their haute couture A/W 2016/2017 fashion show at the Trevi fountain (Rome), whose restoration has been supported by the Roman maison. Also, they hosted an exhibition, Fendi Roma- The Artisans of Dreams, to explain the production process of the fur and creativity elements.
Currently, the fashion house is performing strong with a turnover of more than €1 billion. With Pietro Beccari as chairman and CEO. Creative director’s Lagerfeld and Silvia continue to work side by side in the success of Fendi, remaining the only brand to have an in-house fur atelier.