Fendi pumps up its soft power
If one had to sum up the spirit of the Fendi collection for Fall/Winter 2020-21 in a few words, the expression "an iron fist in a velvet glove" would seem to do the trick. Playing with contrasts between strength and softness, rigour and romanticism, austerity and sensuality, creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi articulated a reflection on the many nuances of a woman's soft power, oscillating between martial authority and high seduction to bring this duality right up to date.
The show was one of the highlights of Milan Fashion Week on Thursday. For once, the house completely changed its decor, having its models walk on the cosy carpet of a powder pink boudoir decorated with plush sofas. On the runway, curvy women rubbed shoulders with top models such as Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kaia Gerber and Mariacarla Boscono, among others – a situation unlikely to have occurred in the times of Karl Lagerfeld.
But times have changed, Fendi seemed to be saying with this collection, proposing a varied but delicately balanced wardrobe that revealed a meticulous attention to proportion, construction, material and detail. Almost all of the looks were presented in monochrome grey or pale pink versions, but there were also accents in warmer shades, as seen in a handful of burnished leather or golden yellow ensembles.
Representing strength, the collection included a number of military coats with bulky, all-enveloping proportions, as well as austere retro-style dresses. More feminine elements included the structure of a corset which appeared to have been embossed onto a series of garments tailored in luxurious wool, cashmere or thick leather, emphasising the models' busts, while elsewhere cocoon-like volumes and rounded curves dominated.
The jacket and knee-length skirt combo was also back with a vengeance, as shown by a leather version featuring a pleated maxi skirt, or a combed wool number with a Paisley motif that seemed to be imitating leopard print. Sensible dresses with short sleeves and shirt collars alternated with leather biker outfits.
The silhouette was generally cinched at the waist by belts decorated with miniature electronic gadgets, such as smartphone earpieces, tablet stylos and smartwatches, all placed inside metallic golden cases hanging from chains. Other accessories included oversized bags and little cases which echoed the shape and design of the bags distributed in Fendi boutiques and will no doubt be a hit.
On the softer side of things, sensuality positively oozed from a pink satin blouse, unbuttoned to reveal the model's bra, as well as from black dresses in transparent chiffon, lace skirts and a selection of fringed ensembles. Fendi's sophisticated lady also donned long leather gloves, wore her hairband on the back of her head for a futuristic touch and, in a sexy twist, switched her garters for a man's sock suspenders.
The collection's key element, however, was puffed sleeves, which were placed a little lower on the shoulder, thereby accentuating the volume around the models' arms. They popped up everywhere, on coats, dresses, certain oversized jackets, furs and even on soft cardigans and baggy ribbed pullovers.
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