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Echoes of past times: looking up at what cyclic changes bring at Fendi

A collaboration with the estate of illustrators Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos. Kim Jones unveiled Fendi’s multi-generational dimension

Kim Jones’ sense of a continuity of time 

What is time? When Augustin, bishop of Hippo, was asked the question, he responded that if no one asked him, he would have known what it is. Yet if he wanted to explain, he didn’t know. Centuries later Gertrude Stein wrote in Composition as Explanation (1926): «There is nothing that makes a difference in beginning, in the middle and in the ending, except that each generation has something different at which they are all looking». Saying that people live in times of circularity is different from claiming that people are trapped in acts of repetition. People live in times of rupture and dispossession, where shifts feel like acts of improvisation. 

Following the 2019 passing of Karl Lagerfeld, Kim Jones’ role was to envision a forward-thinking view for Fendi. On that front, he has been presenting clothes that retain the established principles of the brand’s near hundred-year history, while still taking into consideration contemporary society. Alongside the empowered ease of his vision for its future, Jones explored the irreverence that has historically defined the house. Fast-moving and rooted in the ‘now’, the notion of time creates its own past through the constant process of rapid style change. As Jones observed: «There were the Twenties, the Seventies, and now the 2020s, this fifty-year period; and the Twenties is when Fendi was founded, so it all rolls into one thing – continuity». 

Antonio Lopez, the archive, the illustrations

Excavated from the archives, a logo, hand-sketched by fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, offered the starting point for the Fendi Spring Summer 2022 collection, linked to the artist’s liberated sensibility. 

«Our woman has let loose a bit – she’s going out, dressing up» explained the designer. «We have been locked away for so long and that’s what we all need right now». A modern perspective on disco-age glamour with a spotlight on the femininity that underscores the Fendi name. The Puerto Rican-born artist started out in the mid-Sixties and bucked the trend for photography as the dominant medium in fashion media. 

Since he was a child, Lopez lived his life at breakneck speed, putting decadence, creativity and fun at the heart of his work; days started early and ended late, often at the disco with the best music to dance to was played. 

Sketching designs for his mother, Lopez formalized this interest as a preteen at New York’s Traphagen School of Fashion. He continued his studies at the High School of Art and Design and finished at the Fashion Institute Technology. There, he met Juan Ramos, a fellow Puerto Rican. They became creative partners delving into anything, from researching inspiration to coloring in Lopez’s outlines. 

A friend of Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion illustrator embodied the glamour of New York City in the Seventies, along with that of Studio 54, which became the focal point of Jones’ collection. «While I’ve been looking at Karl’s legacy at the house, I’ve also been looking around him, at his contemporaries – at who he was interested in», explains Jones. «He was forward thinking, inclusive, looked up to by everyone from Andy Warhol to Steven Meisel and David Hockney. I wanted to introduce him to a new generation». Lopez met Lagerfeld in Paris around 1969, when the designer was still at Chloé. Although Lopez and Ramos didn’t work for him in an official capacity, the two contributed ideas and loosened him up during their six years in Paris. 

Lopez and Ramos invented new ways of seeing, discovering people, exploring photography, sampling art movements of the past and present. As Jones explained, their artworks pushed the boundaries of fashion illustration and pioneered a new vision of American multiculturalism during a crucial moment where fashion, art and queer culture collide into one.  As the writer Alicia Drake pointed out in her book The Beautiful Fall, Lopez was one of the first to show that Black, brown, homosexual and working class could all be part of the same glamorous world of fashion. In his illustrations, and later in his photographs, he captured the Seventies and Eighties era with its energy and sexuality – on the dance-floor and on the streets.  

‘Blue Water’ series, Antonio Lopez, 1975

The collection. A reinterpretation of Fendi’s cornerstones

Silhouettes and color progressions were played against a decorative sample of Lopez’s archived illustrations; mixed into the fabric of the garments and accessories via the accomplished artisanal techniques that live at the fashion house. Used throughout, re-envisioned versions of Lopez’s brushstrokes embellish flowing and silky garments; his floral drawings inspire enamel hair accessories; his figurative drawings translate into leather and laces. The show started with tailored suits and exaggerated lapels paired with wide leg pants, progressing into color: pale pinks and mustard yellows in fur coats and satin suits with matching bra tops. Lopez’s touch was evident in short silk dresses, handbags and boots, featuring his rich-colored drawings of women. Shapes and styles from Fendi appeared in the collection with a new twist. The Fendi First bag was introduced in warm tones and bright lines while the Baguette was woven following a rainbow pattern. Jones had refined Lopez’s ideas: as the designer declared, the collection is about how to take a powerful influence and bend it toward the audience’s vision. The Fendi First heel embodies the Seventies, encrusted in resin and reinterpreted in shiny leathers and stripes. 

Designer-artist collaborations are nothing new. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent presented a series of dresses showcasing female figures and heads that were based on the work of Pop Art artist, Tom Wesselmann. Other designers have used Lopez’s work in the past, such as Carol Lim and Humberto Leon for a 2017 Kenzo collection; often it was a simple replication of the artists’ art directly on garments. Jones has followed suit, giving three-dimensional life to some of Lopez’s artworks such as the bold black paint brush strokes on a white caftan and minidress. The connection with Lopez is simultaneously found in a series of spare line drawings of female profile heads, which the illustrator originally developed for a packaging project. They presented repeated zigzag patterns in gray, white and red featured on belted coats. During the mid Sixties, Lopez did a series of fashion illustrations with bold stripes for The New York Times – a continuity that Jones mirrored in garments to echo the aesthetic of the period whilst reconnecting with the twentieth century artist and designer Romain de Tirtoff — also known by the pseudonym, Erté. Through revolutions, wars and occupation lasting nearly a century, the world for Erté was still a place of wonder to be imagined and filled with decorative art. Kim Jones explains how, even after experiencing hard times, things eventually come full circle without any real explanation to why these things happen. Many looks remained illustration free: the fringed dresses, a series of diagonally-striped silks which featured the archive Fendi logo as a sub-pattern, and a complementary marabou jacket over rose gold tailored silk pants. 

The Studio 54 spirit and the multi-generational vision at Fendi 

The show recalled a Studio 54 party in the spirit of Lopez, his creations and the women he used to draw inspiration from: Tina Chow, Pat Cleveland, Jerry Hall, Bianca Jagger and Grace Jones. The creative director highlighted the beauty of female confidence, noting that his vision for Fendi is multi-generational. For those who lived in New York city in the late 1970s, Studio 54 was the place to go. It captured the imagination of anyone who passed through its doors. Part performance and part nightclub, Studio 54 defined a generation, a multicultural incubator that helped foster many subcultures; people’s social economic status, sexuality, race, gender and wealth were irrelevant. It was the place where art, fashion and theater all came together, giving a sense of freedom and hope in a city wrought with social tension. 

The club’s inclusive attitude provided a safe haven for artists, musicians, and designers who were seeking to be creative, exploring identity and self-expression in new ways.  Kim Jones recalls the atmosphere during his first live show, introducing his tailoring skills to Fendi thanks to his years as a men’s designer. As Silvia Venturini Fendi pointed out, Jones isn’t ransacking the Fendi archive to dub as his own ideas. Instead, he is developing this world around Fendi and Karl; a collection which played on audacity. 

Fendi SS 2022

Kim Jones unveiled his first live presentation at Fendi. Classic silhouettes and color progression were played against archive Antonio Lopez illustrations, capturing the Sixties’ era and the transition into the Seventies, together with the Studio 54 freedom and  inclusiveness– on the dance floor as the streets. 

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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