SOCIAL CLASS: Silvia Venturini Fendi
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Fendi
Silvia Venturini Fendi at the fall-winter 2019 fashion show finale in Milan
(From left): Leonetta Luciano Fendi, Silvia Venturini Fendi, and Delfina Delettrez Fendi
Leonetta Luciano Fendi and Silvia Venturini Fendi
(From left): Leonetta Luciano Fendi, Silvia Venturini Fendi, and Delfina Delettrez Fendi

So much has happened in fashion since Silvia Venturini Fendi was handed the reins of menswear and accessories at the Italian fashion house that bears her last name. That was nearly 25 years ago. Yet, some things haven’t changed in their household in the last half of a century: Karl Lagerfeld, the FF logo, and their ability to repackage cool.


Silvia Venturini Fendi has jumped continents to be here. Here, is the swanky The Middle House hotel, in Shanghai. Her presence – alongside her two daughters Delfina and Leonetta as well as newly-minted CEO Serge Brunschwig – in this part of the world marks the enormity of the party that Fendi is hosting that very same evening of our brief catch-up. The epic event in question is a celebration of the #FFreloaded collection, a re-imagination and reintroduction of the FF logo designed by Karl Lagerfeld in 1969. And depending on the generation you represent, the often black-and-tobacco coloured logo might: 1) Give you serious fashion flashbacks, 2) Have you digging up all the vintage Fendi items in your mom’s closet, or 3) Leave you bewildered at its nearly-50-year-old legacy. Maybe even all three. This return to the spotlight can only be described as kismet; a timely combination of nostalgic fashion inspirations, the current maniacal appeal of fashion logos, and the creative touch of a fashion G.O.A.T. While Silvia’s role here is essentially to facilitate the second wave of demand of her unofficial family crest, she now also has a front row seat in observing how the FF logo reboot is received by today’s selfie-loving, online-shopping, hashtag-using crowd – of which her two daughters are very much a part of. But one need only log on to Instagram to discover the virality of a logo that has been translated onto a variety of garments and accessories ranging from jumpsuits to leggings to fur collars and coats. Probably apart from World Leaders, the Royal family and the Pope, the FF logo has been spotted on A-listers the world over and continues to form its own cult following leading up to the brand’s centennial celebrations in a few years’ time. You can’t help but to notice Silvia’s eyes twinkle when she touches upon the FF logo and the acknowledgement of its relevance in today’s finicky fashion landscape. She’s proud of what it represents – her fashion bloodline, her family’s hard work and passion, and the design team’s ability to adapt to change. The #FFreloaded launch party in Shanghai is representative of that change. This means attaching a certain streetwear swagger to their clothing rather than the old way of presenting luxury fashion that’s unattainable and snooty. Silvia gets it. This is the reason why Fendi are creating globe-hopping experiences (first London and now Shanghai) to accompany the #FFreloaded collection. That rainy evening in Shanghai’s Arkham club did not deter hundreds for showing up to witness some of China’s hip-hop hopes perform such as Miss Vava and Higher Brothers, Japanese DJ Alisa Ueno, dance maestros X-Crew, and K-Pop dancer Lia Kim, just to name a few. Undoubtedly, the most genius swerve was the appearance of Hong Kong-born and South Korea-based rapper and boyband member Jackson Wang, who also debuted his catchy song and video, Fendi Man, that evening. The success of that namesake collaboration was evident the very next morning as the song hit number one on two iTunes charts in the U.S. The accompanying video, which was shot at the Fendi headquarters in Rome, also clocked more than 10.5 million views on YouTube within a month. As for the legion of fans screaming and taking endless number of photos during Wang’s performance, you can take that as a metaphor of what the fashion set and the cool kids are thinking about the FF logo. Silvia would humbly agree. 


MANIFESTO: Congratulations! It has been such a journey for the FF logo. It’s amazing how it has regained popularity again.

SILVIA VENTURINI FENDI: The new collection is something that actually came from a request, I would say. We were looking at the young generation and they were buying vintage Fendi, so we said let’s do it (#FFreloaded collection). Maybe it was a good moment to relaunch it. It was obvious that the first garment we would do it with was with fur. That’s because the FF logo made by Karl [Lagerfeld] in the ’60s was made to be inside the fur and the FF stands for Fun Fur. That was the first thing that came to our mind as it was linked to the past.


M: It’s great to see it return because when the FF logo was at its peak, some of the current crop of trendsetters weren’t even around then. And now they are wearing it like it is something entirely new again.


SVF: Yeah, I noticed. What is interesting today is that in the ’80s, the logo was worn by itself. People who are wearing it today are mixing it. It is a different approach than from the past. And they are mixing different logos, not just the luxury ones. There are sporting logos and the younger generation are attracted to these logos which might be linked to politics and tradition.


M: We’ve noticed that you have been on Instagram for the last two years. How did you get into it and what does this app mean to you?


SVF: At the beginning, I was watching it from afar and didn’t know if it was interesting. I was looking at it in a snobbish way. I was like, “No, no. I would never do that.” Then, my daughter Leonetta opened an account for me and I began to get into it but I was still limiting myself as I didn’t want to become a blogger. I still have my ways of doing it – I don’t do selfies. But I still use it when I find strange things that are linked to Fendi, it’s like I [curate the images like] I am doing my own magazine. It’s my mood board! At the beginning my account was private, and only my team has access to it. I would upload photos for them and they would look at it, so it was a way of work. It was very useful and I was sending images – I still do so but I have a secret account for that. So they all go and see it.


M: So, it was the first social media account you own and we can thank your daughter for that.


SVF: And today, I am active but I am not obsessed about it. I upload a photo at least once a day.


M: What was amazing is discovering talents like British graphic artist Hey Reilly via this app and going on to collaborate with him, which perfectly describes the relationship you have with social media.


SVF: He (Hey Reilly) has said that I was the first person in fashion to follow him: “Oh, I couldn’t believe it was you.” Now, we are very good friends but before we were just Instagram friends.


M: Hearing you, Silvia Fendi, use the term “Instagram friends” proves you have come a long way with this medium.


SVF: Yes, it is strange. But it describes how you don’t know someone very well because you’ve never met. And when we finally meet, we become very good friends. Sometimes, it just happens. When you finally meet someone, you start to realise that you already know all about this person from Instagram – what he was doing on the weekend, who he was hanging out with, what he ate. So, when we finally say hello, we kind of already know someone. It’s so bizarre. People know all about you before they meet you because your life is on Instagram.


M: And these apps help you connect with your family as well.


SVF: Yes, of course. I just go on Whatsapp and see if she has woken up or what she is doing.


M: Do you think being social media savvy allows you to understand this generation better?


SVF: Yes, probably. It is a tool that let s you be curious about people and you have to be active in sharing. It is all about sharing.


M: Are you surprised at the phenomenal number of postings and following on the FF logo?


SVF: Yes, I like that so much. I’m so proud of that because the logo means so much. It is linked to a big history. It is not just a logo. It is like a photo of an entire family history so I am so happy when I see people all around the world [wearing it] especially young people who don’t know so much about Fendi. We were once a small company in Rome that was family-owned and now we are a big global brand. But still I feel the same about the company; the products are made by incredible people.


I hope that one day, some writer or director will put the Fendi family history in a movie or in a book. We see a logo but in reality it is a very beautiful story about women and men who are passionate for fashion and they really wanted to do things their way and with a lot of creativity.


M: The FF logo has been placed on everything, from baby strollers to hairstyles. Where is the most surprising place you have seen the logo?


SVF: I love to use the logo on surprising things. Did you see my last Instagram post with logo on the toast? I was in Cinecittà in Rome shooting the men’s campaign and it was on our breakfast. Also, the pram with the FF logo, I made it for Delfina because she just had the twins and people were calling us to enquire about it and now it has become such a huge thing.


M: Remember the time Kanye West shaved the logo into his hair in 2006?


SVF: I remember that night! He wanted me to shave his head but I didn’t have the courage. We were in Tokyo with Nigo.


M: Having worked with Karl Lagerfeld since the early days, how would you describe his influence on you?


SVF: A lot! He is a very big influence. I am who I am because of him. I’ve been watching him so much even when I was a little girl. For me, he is the big master and it is such a privilege to watch him work, to see the creative moments happen, from the paper to the garment. It was like going to university or fashion college since the first day. What Karl really taught me – as well as Fendi – were simple rules: Never rely on what you have done; always think about what you have not. There is a continuous research on what’s next. He doesn’t look back. He is very amused by the FF logo and the new way of interpreting the logo.


M: You have such an impactful and recognisable last name. Do you still feel the pressure to live up to it?


SVF: Well, of course. When you have the same name as the brand and when you work for the brand, you really have to give the maximum because every piece of garment that goes out has your name stamped on it. You want it to be of the best quality, the best looking, the best idea, and you want to work with the best people because it is something linked to you in a way.

Once my daughter – she was eight years old then – was in boarding school and we just arrived in Rome from London. She saw a big billboard with the Fendi campaign and she said, “How nice it is to welcome me back!” I told her, “No, those are just the billboards.” And she, “Ah, I thought they were for me!” (Laughs) She makes me laugh so much!


M: You and your two daughters were part of the Peekaboo bag digital campaign (#MeAndMyPeekaboo) which was launched
in April.


SVF: This campaign very much describes our reality because they always steal my clothes. We have the same shoe size so it’s a disaster. I open my cupboard and I can never find anything. They are stealing everything! Thank God for the clothes we have different size – because they are very thin so they cannot steal all of my clothes. They not only steal, they also cut it! (Gasp) They are very creative and they change the design!


M: Your daughter Delfina is quite a talent in the jewellery and accessories game. She even designed wristwatches for Fendi recently. Do you see her participating more for the brand or do you harbour such dreams?


SVF: If she wants to! I hope that she does whatever she wants. She is now very busy with the children, her creations. They are only a few months old!


M: Now that you are a grandma, did it change things for you as well?


SVF: I’m so happy. They are two boys though I was expecting two girls – that’s not the norm in the Fendi family. They are already such a big inspiration to me. So from the pram, we went on to do the bunny ear [beanies], and I’m always designing things for them.


M: Who would you like to see wear the FF logo?


SVF: One person that I would like to see wear it is Aretha Franklin. I love her so much but I have never met her.


M: Do you have a cherished Fendi item?


SVF: I keep everything! I am a big archivist – anything that has a Fendi logo, I probably have it! if you come to my house, you will see that I don’t know where to put things anymore. (Laughs)

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