Overshadowed by Milan relating to ready-to-wear, one tends to forget the role Rome has played in the fashion world. The birthplace of Italian Couture, thanks mainly to Valentino who opened his first store in the nation’s capital, Rome can also be the origin of another luxury giant: Fendi. I probably wouldn’t have remembered this if I hadn’t passed the company’s relatively new Fendi boutique and global headquarters, aptly named Palazzo Fendi… for it is in reality palatial and very difficult to overlook.
I’ve slightly mixed feelings towards any brand that has marketed both its monogrammed and single logo to death (that includes LV and Gucci) – you would have thought that back in 1966 someone like Lagerfeld would have had the foresight to know that his double-F ‘Zucca’ creation would find yourself on knock-offs all around the world. Nevertheless I tend to forgive both him and the opposite aforementioned logo-brands by shutting my eyes when walking through the handbag section and admiring the amazingly crafted clothes instead.
Though Fendi might be more famous for its ‘It’-bags, especially the Baguette, the company, originally founded in 1918 by Adele Casagrande, started out as a fur and leather speciality shop and still masters this skill to this present day. When entering the huge flagship (it takes up an entire block), leather is probably the first thing you will notice, as you’ll be greeted by an entire floor of leather bags and accessories (and the occasional canvas logo thing I am going to choose to disregard). Fortunately most of this season’s bags are relatively tame and more classic than what Fendi sometimes produces (remember the bag you could possibly paint yourself?). And thankfully as Karl isn’t in command of bag designs, I won’t need to blame him for any of the few odd creations I discovered.
Although I did not spend too much time on this section, I did spare a few minutes more within the adjoining shoe department. And despite finding the occasional logo-ed boot or heel, I also sighted some really pretty strappy sandals and cool shoe boots. The footwear area lead right right into a bright hallway showcasing a number of mannequins wearing this season’s clothes with a video projection of the runway shoes running in the background. The stairway leading as much as the 1st floor is impressive and again reminded me of being in a Palazzo: it consisted of dark carved wood, an enormous chandelier and a sky roof on the very top. In designing the interior, Peter Marino was obviously trying to channel traditional Roman architecture (including his use of local travertine and San Pietrini stones) which contrasted nicely with the fashionable fluid lines found throughout the remainder of the boutique.
A fair warning to animal lovers: while leather accessories might not make you queasy, the 2nd floor fur section could send you running for the closest exit. Though I’m indifferent to fur usually, seeing the rows and rows of different colored mink, chinchilla and sable stoles, jackets and coats that took up about half the floorspace was a bit of an overdose. I need to admit that by itself they probably would have looked divine (and to not heavy or grandmotherly), especially the stole with fur shaped into little roses. What I did find unnecessary though was the white fur buggy. I don’t see how it can ever get that cold in Rome and many of the fur seemed to be in places that wouldn’t keep a child warm anyway – what a waste (of an animal’s life no less).
On to the more fun stuff though… the vast clothing section that took up the remaining floor is really worth looking at. This season’s laser-cut and intricate embroidery (broderie anglaise) is even more striking in person and Lagerfeld’s beautiful sheer layered dresses and skirts are like works of art. Despite the fact that I am not going to be getting any Fendi outfits anytime soon, the standout pieces for me were the dresses with silk applique roses and the 3-tiered layered bell-shaped skirts. There were a couple of more bags on this floor as well, but the clothes are what you need to be looking at.
Even if you’re not a Fendi fan, I would say this flagship is worth a visit just for the building’s architectural elements alone. And if you are a Fend lover, you might need to go sightseeing first, as you’ll likely spend half a day here.