Fendi Spring 2020 Menswear
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When weekending at her country place outside Rome, Silvia Venturini Fendi likes to garden. She grows vegetables, roses, and—when the birds and bugs don’t get there first—fruit, too. Today Fendi transplanted this most bucolic of pastimes to her next-summer menswear collection. To add extra flourish, she applied a sprinkling of creative fertilizer in the form of a collaboration with this season’s guest artist, the film director Luca Guadagnino.
The show was held in the handsome gardens of Milan’s Villa Reale. As we crunched across the gravel to our chairs, we were guided by groundsmen outfitted in khaki Fendi work overalls. Along with fellow gardener and noted tomato specialist, Bruce Pask of Bergdorf Goodman, I cultivated fantasies of tackling the weeding post-show season so chicly attired. Even when horticulturally appropriate, however, the clothes that followed were far too lovely to consider muddying.
As they sat in a conservatory earlier, Guadagnino recalled that Fendi first asked him to work with her on this season’s collection when they were backstage together at January’s menswear show, for which Karl Lagerfeld was guest artist. “I was flattered and humbled, and immediately said yes.” The two are in fact longtime creative associates, having first coproduced a short film in 2005. Since then Fendi has notched associate producer credits on both I Am Love and Suspiria. Guadagnino immediately sent Fendi some patterns he had sketched during the shoot for his most recent movie, a swirling abstracted grid, which became the basis of the print used on long side-split shirts inspired by memories of the director’s childhood years in Ethiopia. This was also the basis of cut-out knitwear, shearling cloaks, and tote bags toward the end of the collection whose latticing echoed a gardener’s trellis. Along with Fendi, Guadagnino germinated the idea to have the show soundtracked by Ryuichi Sakamoto and to include elements of the studied, almost formal, precision of Japanese workwear in the collection.
The gardening looks were sometimes thrillingly literal: olive drab outerwear with detachable pockets and one great short-sleeved overall, accompanied by clipping baskets, watering cans, and organza-backed gardening gloves. There was a utility vest in botanical-print-organza-clad strips of shearling teamed with a multi-compartment tool bag in leather. Some of the wide-brimmed Bruce Chatwin–inspired travel hats featured apiarist-inflected mesh veils. Luxury-loving gardeners are a pretty niche market, and this collection wisely saw Fendi broaden its purview to encompass soft tailoring with split-hemmed pants arranged around floral-print ties, swimwear teamed with slashed cut-out sections, softly washed workman’s denim that came sometimes leather-patched, and some floral-print camp-collar shirting in silk or organza. These though were all looks that grew from the show’s green-fingered starting point. Before the show Fendi had observed: “In a time where so much of what we encounter is so virtual and so synthetic, I think the feeling and spirit of wanting to be connected to nature now is stronger than ever before.” In the mise-en-scene she mustered with Guadagnino today, as carefully observed as any in his movies, that spirit fostered as fine a crop of Fendi menswear as we have seen for a while.