Fendi is one of the absolute major Italian luxury fashion houses, offering not only leather goods, but also ready-to-wear for women and men, shoes, accessories, eyewear, fragrances, and timepieces galore. A lot of Fashion houses are named after the founder, Fendi is no different. But what makes Fendi special, is that the company is still (partially) owned by the Fendi family.
Before Fendi was Fendi
Adele Casagrande was born in 1897, she started designing at a very young age and in 1918, when she was 21, she opened her first leather and (secret) fur workshop on Via del Plebiscito in Rome. She changed to company name to ‘Fendi’ after she married Edoardo Fendi in 1925. They worked hard, starting out by selling small and medium leather goods, while they had a side busines selling fur goods. Soon Fendi became known for their handbags. Within 10 years Fendi grew quite successful, opening several other shops. Together Adele and Edoardo had five daughters; Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda. All five of them helped to grow the family business even bigger.
Photo's of Adele and Edoardo Fendi - by HP Village
The next generation
Fendi stood for elegance, craftmanship, innovation, and style. Success came quickly, but the business grew even bigger when the oldest daughter Paola decided to join the company in 1946. She was only 15 at the time! All of her sisters eventually started working for the family business, bringing new young energy into the company. When Edoardo passed away in 1954, the five daughters started working full time for the company and they started to expend the business. The new focus on fashion turned out to be a good choice. After bringing out the first line of furs, the Fendi fur coats were on everybody’s mind! This changed in the 60s where the opinions about fur changed drastically. Fur came to be seen as old-fashioned and ordinary.
Luckily, the fate of Fendi was changed in 1965, when the Fendi sisters hired the young German designer Karl Lagerfeld, to modernize their fur lines. Thanks to him, the way people looked at fur changed completely. Truly revolutionizing how fur was worn, and how it was used in fashion. He transformed it into a fashionable, soft, light, fashion item. Karl wanted to make something completely new, experimenting with different materials, patterns, finishes, and colors. Fendi’s fur collections exploded, and gained more popularity quickly. The first couture fur collection in 1966 by Karl Lagerfeld was what let Fendi to big international buyers, thanks to the president of Bloomingdales who was impressed by the collection.
Fun fact: Karl Lagerfeld also designed the classic ‘Double F’ Zucca pattern, that will always be the signature of Fendi.
Adele Fendi passed away in 1978, from this moment all five daughters took over a different part of the company. Paola became the fur expert; Franca became the purchasing manager; Carla worked as head of sales; Alda was in charge of the workshop and atelier; while Anna became the head of design and licensing.
Fun fact: Adele used to compare her daughters to ‘The five fingers in a hand’, meaning that each one was crucial to the development of the fashion house and that the brand itself could not have existed without the perfect harmony among them.
Like for many Italian Fashion houses, Fendi started expending their ranges in the 1980. Products like sweaters, suits, jeans, perfumes umbrellas, clocks, ceramics, and household decorations became available. In 1985 Fendi even got to produce the uniforms of the Rome police department!
All five Fendi sisters, the second generation to work for the fashion house - by CNN
The third generation
The Fendi family still is a big part of the company, as the third generation is represented by Silvia Venturini Fendi, the daughter of Anna Fendi. Silvia started working as a designer for the fashion house in 1994. She started seconding Karl Lagerfeld in the creative division, and as of the early 00s she had been in charge of the accessories, menswear and kids wear.
In 1999 Fendi sold shares of their company to Prada and LVMH Group, with LVMH eventually buying the majority of the shares, becoming the majority shareholder of Fendi in 2001. This led to Fendi gaining status as a multinational business. However, Silvia Venturini Fendi stayed with the company, to represent her family, and to keep the traditional designs alive. She worked alongside Karl Lagerfeld for over 20 years until he passed away in 2019, Karl stayed with Fendi and assisted creatively even when working for Chanel. After his death, Silvia became creative director of Fendi in 2019. She is mainly known for designing some of the most iconic bags Fendi, and even the world, has ever seen. She looked for practicality, functionality and lightness in bags.
Karl Lagerfeld together with Silvia Venturini Fendi - by CNN
The 90s really helped to shape the fashion influence of the fashion house. In 1997 Fendi began making a series of handbags, and these were a huge success. Silvia Fendi is responsible for, what is possibly, the first ever ‘IT’ bag ever. Fendi released the “Baguette” in 1997, and it didn’t take long before it was immensely popular. Many celebrities like Madonna, Naomi Campbell, and Julia Roberts were seen with the bag. And, today, the Baguette can still be seen on fashionista’s all over the world. And ever since 1997, there have been over 1000 versions! It’s said that the success of the Baguette is actually the reason that LVMH wanted to invest in the company. Other famous bags are the Roll bag released in 1999, the Ostrich bag in 2002, and the Biga bag in 2003.
Showing some amazing bags designed by Fendi - by Etoile
Bags by Fendi stood out because they were different than other bags at the time. Next to that, Fendi took the same approach on their bags as they did with their fashion. They were creative, experimented, and used materials, colors, patterns, and finishes that weren’t necessarily the common approach.
Memorable fashion shows
Next to iconic bags, Fendi is known for some of the most iconic fashion shows of the past century as well! The most likely the most legendary fashion show ever, was held on October 19, 2007. Fendi turned the Great Wall of China into a runway, starring 88 models on an 88-meter long runway. This was the first time the wall was used as a runway, and it’s said that the show was even visible from the moon! Seven years later, at Milan Fashion Week, Fendi presented their fall/winter 14 collection while having high definitions drone camera’s flying around to broadcast a live stream of the show. The Fall/Winter 17 collection was presented on the historic Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. The show doubled as the reopening of the fountain, after it was closed for restorations. Fendi donated 2 million euros to restore the fountain as a part of the Fendi for Fountains initiative.
Fendi stands for quality, tradition, experimentation, and creativity. Even though, LVMH has most shares of the company, the Fendi family still has a lot of influence in the company. The daughters and grandchildren of Adele and Edoardo Fendi stayed with the company to ensure that the family’s contribution to the fashion house continued. The head quarters of the Fashion house are still located in Rome, the place it all started almost a century ago. We are sure that Fendi will continue to surprise us with amazing fashion and, of course, more iconic bags. We can’t wait to see what the future brings!
Are you ready to find your perfect Fendi item? Check out our Fendi collection, or send us a message!
With love, Jessica