Fendi: Made for Women by Women … and Karl

Fendi: In the Beguining

Quality, creativity, and longevity come to mind with the name Fendi. The 93-year-old family business has produced collections that New York Times fashion writer Guy Trebay has called “genuinely beautiful and ornately costly designs,” and the company is run by three generations of women—mother, daughters, and granddaughter. 

By presenting its own concepts with dedicated attention to detail and timelessness, Fendi has always stood apart from other fashion houses. From the start in 1925, when they opened their first furrier and leather goods workshop in Rome, founders Adele Cassagrande and her husband Eduardo Fendi set exacting standards. In 1928 for their Sellaria collection, the House of Fendi introduced special parchment leather with a traditional processing technique used by Roman master saddlers. Parchment leather become a defining characteristic of Fendi for decades. 

Adele Cassagrande and her husband Eduardo Fendi


And then, came Karl…

Karl Lagerfeld became the creative partner in 1965, and after originating the iconic double F logo as well as designing Fendi’s first fur collection, the luxury brand exploded. As Lagerfeld continued to oversee the collections, in 1994 Adele’s granddaughter, Sylvia Venturini Fendi, was appointed as creative accessories director, continuing Fendi’s long-standing reputation of lofty standards. Fendi’s customer base flourished throughout the 1990s largely because of its chic accessories. In 1990 Sylvia introduced her first of many handbag designs, the Baguette. This amazing little bag was small enough to carry under an arm, but large enough to hold everything a woman needs. Whether it was bought to accessorize or simply as a fashion collectible, each handmade Fendi baguette was a piece of art, with intricate beadwork and rich silk looming. Every bag that Sylvia introduces stays relevant through the years, which makes them lasting investments.


Fendi women and Karl

Handbag aficionados went into a frenzy when Fendi produced the Spy Bag with its signature parchment leather embossed with the double F logo. For several seasons after its introduction, shoppers had to register on a long waiting list to buy it. It was considered by many to be one of the most intelligent, artistic, and functional handbags that could transition from day to night. 

Fendi has always been determined to infuse fun into fashion. Not content to rest on its laurels, the House revealed the Peekaboo Bag in its spring-summer 2009 collection. It is by far my favorite of Fendi’s creations. You carry the bag by leaving the turn lock open, offering a glimpse of the unique lining that gives each bag its own special personality. I love having the opportunity to express my sense of style by personalizing my handbag. With strong sales in 2017, the continued versatility of the Peekaboo is assured, and it’s now available in four sizes (mini, small, medium, and large) that can be styled in unique ways. 

Beaded Baguette

Peekaboo mink bag

Kan l velvet shoulder bag


In its autumn-winter 2012 collection, Fendi debuted the 2jours Tote Bag, which quickly became an It Bag among global fashionistas. The 2jours Bag came in three sizes—mini, medium, and large. Shortly after, the Trois-Jours Shopping Bag was released to replace the large version of the 2jours. 

Fendi continued its whimsical yet practical handbag designs by coming out with leather straps that can be decorated with jewels and cutout leather decals. These accessories are must-have items to give an instant facelift to older bags. 

The classic, feminine styled Kan 1 and the Runaway handbags with the contemporary F logo finish and multicolor hardware are the latest designs for Fendi’s 2017-2018 collection. Sylvia has added furry fruit to her Fendirumi pet charms and metal alphabet charms with the Fendi Triplette so that owners can mix and match these stackable pouches to complement the fashion house’s new looks. 

After almost a hundred years in the business, there’s a true authenticity about the House of Fendi. Throughout the decades, the company has never swayed from Adele and Eduardo’s original standards of their furrier and accessory company, scrupulously maintaining superior quality and excellent craftsmanship. 

Silvia and Karl

Sylvia Venturini Fendi’s love for the arts is present in her designs and lifestyle. She’s constantly collaborating with artists like Chris Woods, Kenny Scarf, and Chaz Bojorquez. Branding its spring-summer 2018 menswear collection as “the Skype generation at work,” the House of Fendi recently collaborated with guest artist Sue Tilley to feature her painted illustrations of household objects on shirts, jackets, and tote bags. 

“Androids will take the old jobs,” Ms. Fendi said backstage at the menswear 2017 show in New York, “but the only thing that they can’t replace is our creativity and our minds.” 

It’s a good bet that classic-meets-modernism will successfully take the House of Fendi into the next century. 


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