Fendi does hip horticulture and Monty Don mode
What a pity that the Chelsea Flower Show took place last month, because the witty and stylish collection by Fendi presented Monday morning in a royal garden in Milan would have been the perfect clothes for the event.
Themed around the idea of the civilizing power of gardening, the collection contained a whole series of outdoor looks from tony farmers to rarefied gentleman gardeners. The cast marching along the paths of the wooded garden of the Villa Reale, of the royal house of Savoy - dappled light breaking through the plain and beach trees.
The audience sat gracefully on wicker chairs, on each of which was a small hamper basket with miniature bananas and sweet pastries. All terribly refined.
Forty shades of green opened the show, from pickle work pants with sturdy knee patches and shirts for some serious digging; sage rain-gear for an inclement day; or chartreuse knit tops with matching flat-front pants and sandals.
Many gardeners wearing great raffia or straw sun hats finished with the Fendi logo. In a series of clever visual puns, designer Silvia Fendi used the houses signature brown and beige stripes to cover watering cans, rakes and pruning shears.
What was also smart was how she fused the gardeners’ vernacular – like hefty exterior patch pockets – into some great tailoring for the city. Plus in a season that has seen the revival of the Roman sandal, nobody had a better selection than Silvia Fendi.
“I’m actually a huge fan of gardening, so it was very nice to inject that passion into this show. It’s such a magical place where the models could walk on these shaded paths; giving the sense of an explorer,” commented Silvia Fendi post-show.
The show marked the first Fendi menswear display since the passing of creative director Karl Lagerfeld, and the change of location, after a half-decade spent in a show space on via Solari in south Milan, added a new élan.
Though the really big news was the phantasmagorical prints, made in an exclusive collaboration with Luca Guadagnino – whimsical mixes of floral illustrations and graphics. The award-winning film director named these sketches "Botanics for Fendi," employed by the designer in light dusters, splash jackets and expansive parkas. They even cropped up in mesh peekaboo bags and wool plaid picnic blankets. Silvia and Luca do go back a long way – Signora Fendi was an associate producer on Signor Guadagnino’s break-out film "I Am Love" of 2009.
Though the coolest looks were the botanic elongated shirts, inspired by Luca’s youth in Ethiopia, and in synch with the off-beat colonial trend seen in many Milanese shows this season. Though in Fendi’s case, quite Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.
Since the soundtrack – created via remixes of classical and orchestral works – was by Ryuichi Sakamoto, adding lots of drama.
“Sakamoto’s original album was called 'Back to Basics,' which is what I wanted in this collection – simplicity, authenticity and nature. With natural materials, wool, silk organza cotton and straw,” explained Fendi.
So, next year when the Chelsea Flower Show rolls along you know where to shop for your outfit. Eat your heart out Monty Don.
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