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Sep 20, 2023

Fendi sisters to Kim Jones: the impressive history of the double F brand

As the eternal city of Rome is bathed in the warm sunset glow, its streets come to life. We hear the sound of fountains gushing and the sweet tones of leisurely conversation as individuals indulge in their evening aperitivo.

Amidst the crowd, a sophisticated woman strides with pride, her stilettos ticking on the cobblestones. Whispers grow louder as her glamorous coat shimmers in the evening glow. Who is she? 

As she steps into the light, what catches the eye is the bag clutched under her arm, adorned with the unmistakable emblem – two intertwined Fs. It’s the quintessential symbol of luxury, a testament to the iconic Fendi brand.

“Fendi is my Italian version of creativity. It’s Italian to its core. It is not only Italian, it’s Roman” – Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi’s late Artistic Director of Couture and Womenswear


The history of Fendi: a handbag shop and fur workshop turned into a fashion heavyweight

The House of Fendi was founded by Adele and Edoardo Fendi in Rome in 1925. Later, they opened the first Fendi boutique, a handbag shop and a fur workshop.

In the following years, the Fendi sisters – Anna, Alda, Carla, Franca and Paola Fendi – collaborated closely to innovate and transform the brand, with each sister taking responsibility for a specific aspect of the business, perfectly complementing one another like the five fingers of a hand.

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A Fendi bag as a celebration of craftsmanship

The brand’s partnership with Karl Lagerfeld revolutionised the brand’s image in 1965, leading to the introduction of groundbreaking construction techniques. His creative ideas merged with the Fendi women’s business acumen, resulted in an unparalleled blend that built a legacy based on femininity, creativity, technical excellence, innovation, and heritage.

The late design impresario and the double F brand collaborated for 54 years. Silvia Venturini Fendi, a third-generation member of the Fendi dynasty, seconded Lagerfeld in the artistic direction in 1992. 

Silvia Venturini Fendi with Karl Lagerfeld

In 1994, Silvia Venturini Fendi was given responsibility of leather goods accessories and the menswear line.

In 2000, the Lvmh group acquired Fendi, becoming its majority shareholder one year later.

In September 2020, Kim Jones was appointed artistic director of couture and womenswear, while Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Silvia Venturini Fendi’s daughter and fourth-generation member of the Fendi family, joined the Maison as the Artistic Director of Jewellery.


Things you didn’t know about Fendi’s FF logo by Karl Lagerfeld 

Combining two reverse ‘F’ letters, the FF Fendi logo (also known as the Zucca logo) is a highly sought-after monogram that strikes the perfect balance between making a statement and remaining neutral. Fun fact: the Fendi logo may not represent the brand name but stand for ‘Fun Fur’.

According to the legend, at Carla Fendi’s request, Karl Lagerfeld designed the FF logo – one of the fashion world’s most recognisable logos – in a mere 5 seconds. 

Karl Lagerfeld infamously designed the FF logo in less than five seconds

Originally intended as a print for the inner lining of fur and silk coats, the logo organically grew into a fashion sensation, earning its place next to fashion titans like Gucci.

The concept of fur being fun transformed fur’s perception with novel reinterpretations inspired by sea waves or plotted fields. Lagerfeld’s boundless imagination and daring experimentation reinvented fur into a blank canvas, ushering in an era of playful and dynamic fashion that captured the essence of lightness and fluidity.


Unforgettable fashion moments on the big screen 

The Fendi family has always had a love affair with movies and cinema. In a captivating interview with journalist Natalia Aspesi, Carla Fendi revealed how the family would gather on special occasions to watch movies projected onto makeshift screens made from bedsheets.

This passion remains a driving force behind the brand, infusing its designs with unparalleled drama and storytelling. From Silvana Mangano’s careless toss of her sumptuous Fendi fox fur in the 1974 Italian movie Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno) to Meryl Streep’s iconic throw of her sheepskin coat on her assistant’s desk in The Devil Wears Prada, Fendi’s furs have created unforgettable moments in cinema. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel featured Edward Norton in an astrakhan coat and Tilda Swinton in an opulent mink and hand-painted silk coat. These furs made their cinema debut as early as the 60’s, draping the bodies of Italian stars. But high-profile devotees such as Princess Diana, Lauren Bacall and Queen Rania of Jordan have loved them too.


“It’s not a bag, it’s a Baguette:” The story behind an it-bag as a legend

Perhaps Fendi’s most iconic product is the Baguette Bag, designed in 1997 by Silvia Venturini Fendi, the granddaughter of Adele and Edoardo Fendi. Inspired by the Parisian ladies’ nonchalant way of carrying a loaf of bread, this iconic piece broke the 90’s minimalism and had a tremendous impact on fashion and pop culture. 

The bag’s popularity soared when Carrie Bradshaw corrected a thief in an episode of Sex & The City, declaring, “It’s not a bag, it’s a Baguette!”.

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"It's not a bag, it's a Baguette!" Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Carrie Bradshaw in the infamous Sex & The City, designed her own line of Baguette bags in collaboration with Fendi

The legendary bag celebrated its 25th anniversary with a spectacular runway show during New York Fashion Week in 2022 to bring back the same level of excitement.


Fendi’s catwalk extravaganza

Fendi’s iconic collections have made a significant impact on the fashion industry. The fashion house has always created the unimaginable, from the luxurious Silver Moon fur collection to the breathtaking runway over the Trevi fountain in Rome for its 90th anniversary. 

The brand never fails to bring a fresh perspective with each season, whether it’s through Eskimo motifs reflecting societal changes or the Sea Collection featuring draped fur. Making history has somehow become a routine for Fendi, as seen in their S/S 2007 runway show on the Great Wall of China or when they demonstrated ultimate luxury by misting their fur with 24K gold. 

In 1977, Fendi set a new standard for presenting a fashion collection by showcasing their entire collection with a short film titled Histoire d’Eau, directed by Jacques de Bascher, featuring a 15-year-old Silvia Venturini Fendi.


Pushing the boundaries of fashion 

Each Fendi product is an object of desire, each collection detailed with fondness and each era with new barriers broken. Their immensely successful rebellious approach is demonstrated by their accomplishment of being the first brand to take over all windows in Harrods London. 

Fendi’s meticulously crafted campaigns have been equally boundary-pushing, often featuring unexpected models, avant-garde styling, and visually striking imagery. 

From their iconic Fendista campaign, featuring a diverse cast of women, to one of their latest collaborations with photographer Craig McDean, bringing to life Kim Jones’ vision of infusing Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy with the present, portrayed cleverly through a blend of late 90s minimalist aesthetic and pop-infused eclecticism.

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Kim Jones is infusing Lagerfeld's legacy with the present, combining late 90s minimal aesthetics with pop-infused eclecticism

Earlier this year, Fendi tapped the talented South Korean artist Yujin, leader of the girl group IVE, as its new brand ambassador. Yujin’s love for Fendi’s aesthetic was no secret before the official announcement, having been spotted in the brand’s iconic looks and accessories. She marked her debut donning the iconic Peekaboo bag, a staple in the fashion world since its introduction in 2009.


An eternal tribute to the eternal city of Rome 

Fendi continues to create collections reflecting the fashion world’s ever-evolving trends and pay tribute to Rome’s cultural heritage. Their creations, including whimsical fur pieces, elegant leather designs, and daring prints, manifest the decadent and lavish lifestyle intimately associated with Rome. Despite its global presence, the brand still proudly revels in the city’s aura. 

Iconically Roman: The Fendi Headquarters in the Colosseo Quadrato, in Rome

The brand indulges in numerous projects to restore the eternal city, including the famous Trevi fountain. They are genuinely grateful to Rome, a testament to the brand’s deep roots and dedication to preserving its historical significance for future generations. To support this cause, Karl Lagerfeld captured the true essence of Rome’s fountains through his lens in ‘The Glory of Waters’, a project showcased at Fendi’s Paris boutique opening in 2013.


What’s the future of Fendi under Kim Jones? 

The Fendi house strikes an ideal balance between practicality and emotion, preserving its rich heritage without being lost in its nostalgia. Instead, it seamlessly celebrates its traditions while embracing evolution.

Under the visionary leadership of Kim Jones, who works with Silvia Venturini Fendi and the team as the brand’s artistic director of couture and womenswear, Fendi has evolved towards new horizons. Jones has also championed sustainability by reducing the usage of fur and recycling it, epitomising the brand’s ethical values and promoting conscious fashion practices.

The first Fendi bag to be released under the direction of Kim Jones

The contemporary Fendi woman is not just a symbol of sophistication or physical beauty. She is a strong-willed, authentic and determined individual who fearlessly navigates a rapidly changing world with self-assurance and ambition, radiating confidence at every turn.



Shreya Bansal 
MA in Fashion Promotion, Communication & Digital Media, Milan