Fendi Couture Fall 2021

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Can a couture show spawn an “It” shoe? Kim Jones hit on a winning idea by transposing the arched loggia of Fendi’s imposing Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana into a nifty wedge heel that is eye-catching, but also feels like it’s been part of the brand since forever.

“Just looking at Rome, there’s so much to be inspired by,” he marveled over Zoom.

Adept at sinking himself into brand lore and surfacing the right details and ideas, the British designer tuned into the Baroque Italian-ness of Fendi more convincingly with this sophomore couture effort, long on dazzling and delicate workmanship and mostly nonlinear references to Rome. These were triply refracted: By Jones, who is English; by filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose poetry figured as a key inspiration this season, and then in turn by Luca Guadagnino, who stitched everything together in a dreamy, 12-minute film.

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It had the likes of Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Mariacarla Boscono, Adut Akech and Amber Valletta gliding in slow-motion through an Escher-like set of stuccoed portals and staircases, everything kissed with a golden-hour glow.

“Ancient Rome, medieval Rome and modern Rome at the same time,” was how Jones summed up Pasolini’s writings, which was echoed in his approach to the collection: “You look at the past, then you also bring in techniques from the present.”

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Jones scanned dresses from the mid 1800s and the 1920s, when Fendi was established, to create jacquards that were cut away in sections, then embroidered with crystal beads. Acorns, flowers and other botanical motifs were etched with intarsias, embroideries and mosaic techniques on narrow day dresses, strapless evening columns and grand ballgowns. Moss looked like some exotic bird in a white, high-necked coat composed of tiny petals of fur mounted on organza.

Jones described some of the surface treatments as laborious, but these clothes felt mostly light and frothy, if not particularly youthful. Swags of fabric, winding ribbons and trailing trains added a regal quality.

He once again included a few men’s looks, but mostly because it supported his narrative: “When you’re looking at Pasolini, there’s always a man present…and he was a very chic dresser.”

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Jones said he studied orders for his first couture effort to glean what clients expect from him and the house — dresses, bits of tailoring, and fur pieces that are mostly repurposed and recycled, including a tile-like arrangement of small patches that resembles a jacket Pasolini wore. These appeared on a bolero for her; a V-neck sweater for him.

“It’s still very much about fantasy,” he said.

Among the new faces in Jones’ couture gang is Czech model Paulina Porizkova, who lands on Page Six practically every time she posts a naked selfie, which is fairly often. Here, all covered up in a gorgeous, high-neck white coat and tall boots, she looked every inch a queen.

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