Silvia on Style.com
Silvia Venturini Fendi at the pool by The Standard Spa to
discuss with Ashley Simpson her work with Pergay,
how Fendi Casa fits into the house’s larger vision,
and why Karl Lagerfeld never—and always—shocks.
The house of Fendi has long held close ties to the world of design. While everyone
else was (and is) collaborating with artists (this year’s Art Basel brings Ryan
McGinley for Calvin Klein and Visionaire for Gap, to name just a couple), Fendi
was focusing on its own cross-pollination. Silvia Venturini Fendi has been at
the forefront of the house’s push toward contemporary design since founding
Fendi Casa in 1997—applying the brand’s playful, irreverent aesthetic to specially
commissioned projects with forward-thinking designers, including Aranda/Lasch,
Beta Tank, and Toan Nguyen. This week, Fendi Casa is introducing a new capsule
collection of steel- and fur-based items with designer Maria Pergay.
On the fashion front, how do you and Karl Lagerfeld
keep the house of Fendi’s designs fresh?
We are always the same. Karl has been working with Fendi since forever…from ’65.
Me, I was born at Fendi, so we are always the same people. But we have finally set
up a structure thanks to the LVMH group entering in 2000, and we went through
many,many changes. And today we are ready to go like a lightning bolt to what we
really want and to what Fendi really is. We have a very good energy at the moment
at Fendi. We are very free in what we do—and this you can see. Our shows and our
collections are concentrated on what Fendi has been doing and representing in the
fashion world: quality, tradition, and heavy, heavy experimentation. We don’t take
ourselves too seriously. That’s something that I think we really have in
common with Maria Pergay. It’s this lightness in serious things.
Has working with Karl changed over the years?
I can say no. Every time is like the first time. You know, Karl will surprise you.He’s
not predictable at all. And every time, when he arrives [in Rome from Paris],there’s
the same expectation and energy. He has to say, “Oh! How did you do that? It’s what
I really wanted to achieve and you made it!” Karl is one of the most intelligent people
that I’ve ever met in my life. And he gets bored very easily. If he sees something
that he’s already seen, he’s not attracted at all. So every time, you have to submit
something new—like new techniques, new materials, and new ways of doing the same
thing, like fur, for instance. Every time, we really want it to morph into something else.
Delfina has also become more and more involved.
Yes! Now she’s involved in Fendi. I’m very happy because she’s doing the fashion
jewelry.I’m very proud. The story continues. Karl is very happy, and they get along
very well. I like her crazy earrings with the feathers, which are in reality fox fur. So
light and so beautiful. So we’ll see what she comes up with for the next show. She
combines her vision with Fendi’s vision in a very balanced way.
Everyone’s been talking about those Monster bags and fur Buggie charms…
Yeah! They sold out everywhere. The Monsters, really they represent our DNA. In
the sixties my mother and her sisters—fur was something very, very boring,and
it was a real status symbol. Men would buy it for women to show that they were
rich.The bigger the coat, the bigger the wallet. Really, my mother and her sisters
were fighting all that. They wanted to liberate women in the sixties. You couldn’t
even drive a car with this heavy fur on, and since it was very, very precious, you had
four or five linings to protect the skins. My mother and her sisters took away all of
these and treated it like it was a normal fabric. They were cutting things that were
so expensive,that nobody could touch. And the little Monsters are really there to
say, “Yes we do fur, but we play with it.” I like them. They make me happy.
Tell us about the collaboration with Maria Pergay. How did it evolve?
I’ve always been fascinated by strong women with strong points of view, and I
think that she really is, in a way, a Fendi woman—because she reminds me of the
women of my family. In the fifties, when she started her production, she turned
steel into something more sensual and feminine. And so, one day when I was at
Art Basel, they told me that she was there with her gallery, so I went downstairs to
meet her, and I said I was one of her admirers, and one day, maybe she would be
open to doing something. And she said, “Yes, yes, yes!” But the first thing that she
said was, “You know, I don’t know anything about fashion.” After a few months,
we started working on one piece. One piece became several pieces. Four.
Maria is the first designer that we are going to produce.
Fendi’s been having this conversation with design for many
years, while other people have been focusing more on art.
We really thought from the very beginning that there is a common relationship, and
we are closer to design than to art, because design and fashion share the fact that you
have to have an aesthetic vision and a creative vision, but also, you have to make
something technical and functional. That makes life more challenging sometimes.
There is a lot of research that goes into these projects, and all the background
work is so interesting. At least to me, this is the best part.