Even as Milan Fashion Week had kicked off, the mostly widely known ‘secret’ was already tickling anticipation: there would be a collaborative show by Versace and Fendi. In recent years, collaborations, and so called ‘contaminations’ between luxury brands are becoming an attractive device for injecting rejuvenating disruption and reaching new audiences. There is Moncler with its Genius project, the Balenciaga and Gucci ‘Hacking’, and Jean Paul Gaultier opening up the house to a different designer every season, starting with Chitose Abe of Sacai in July this year.
Even in this environment, a fashion universe crossover such as Fendi and Versace is cause for a hard double-take. These are two houses steeped in a rich heritage that has never come close to intersecting, are positioned as staunch competitors no less, and, of the three creative heads between the two houses, Donatella Versace and Silvia Venturini Fendi have never in decades of experience designed for any other brand than their own.
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And so was born ‘Fendace’. On Sunday the highly anticipated show was held, and was dubbed a ‘swap’. Fendi’s Kim Jones designed a Versace women’s collection, Venturini Fendi a Versace menwear’s collection, and Versace a Fendi collection for both women and menswear. On the Versace by Fendi side, Fendi’s double F bodysnatched Versace’s Greek key in chunky hardware and golden monograms; for Fendi by Versace, Versace’s flamboyant prints and 90’s rock sensibility permeated all. But with both collections going all in on that larger-than-life Italian decadence and sensuality, the fully baked Fendace collection is a touch more Versace than Fendi. The most uncanny result of this cross pollination is the accessories that sported the amalgamated carnations of the two houses’ symbology – which is very much the point when it comes to the boutique floor.
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If the creation of the collection brought together fashion’s greats, the show itself packed star power that topped all the star-studded runway lineups so far. Generations crossed with Kate Moss and daughter Lila Moss, as has become a tradition at Fendi. Representing the current runway noblesse were the likes of Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Adut Akech, Precious Lee and Paloma Elsesser. The original Supers came one big gun after another, from Kristen McMenamy who opened the show, to Naomi Campbell who closed it.
While some might decry the event as a marketing exercise, Fendace will nonetheless be remembered as one of the great fashion moments in the sartorial history books.
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