The London-born designer Kim Jones is well-loved for many things – among them being a leading name in directional menswear and a power broker of high fashion-streetwear collaborations. Now, this celebrated trailblazer (legitimately a title he was crowned with at the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards two years ago) is breaking new ground by venturing into women’s clothing at Fendi.
Kim Jones, artistic director of womenswear at Fendi at the finale of his first ready-to-wear show for the brand.
There are a host of beautiful creations in his first ready-to-wear collection as the brand’s artistic director for womenswear. Languorous draped silks that breezily embody Roman classicism, and perfectly cut outerwear and shirting that demonstrate his chops as a maestro of menswear tropes, for example. That he can design great fashion is obvious.
What’s most remarkable about Jones, however, is that he’s one of the industry’s best at corralling talent. That’s exceptionally important at Fendi, which is one of only a handful of legacy brands that still have family members in major design roles. Here he’s working alongside two generations of women with their names above the door: Silvia Venturini Fendi, who heads menswear and accessories, as well as her daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi, who had recently joined the company as creative director of jewellery.
Kim Jones makes a commanding statement with his ready-to-wear debut as Fendi’s artistic director of womenswear with a brand new clutch-style handbag dubbed Fendi First, distinguished by an oversized clasp in the shape of the letter “F”.
At Dior and Louis Vuitton, where he remains and was at the helm of menswear respectively, his blockbuster collaborations were external – with streetwear brands, artists and artistes. At Fendi, he has begun his tenure by looking instead inwards at its namesake family.
One of his key inspirations for this outing was the style of the five formidable Fendi sisters who put the brand on the global map, not least by hiring his predecessor, the late Karl Lagerfeld, in 1965. Or more specifically, the timeless Italian chic and sensibility of a dynasty of women Jones
describe as “of intellect who work hard”.
At the same time, Jones drew inspiration from Silvia’s utilitarian uniform of work jackets, casting them with a luxurious, no-nonsense eye in the form of handsome shearling coats. And from Delfina: a series of dresses cut like smoking jackets referencing her proclivity for feminine tailoring.
More firsts from Jones that are in fact an ode to Fendi’s history: the Fendi First wedge mules with an architectural heel inspired by an archive design and the Fendi Touch handbag of which elegant simplicity can be said to have been inspired by the practical sensibility of the Fendi sisters.
Look even closer and there are plenty of other nods to Fendi’s history. The Karligraphy script monogram that Lagerfeld introduced in 1981 and revived in his last collection for the house in Fall/Winter 2019, for example, is baked into the collection’s multitude of finishes: laser-cut onto suede; embroidered onto satin sleeve hems; printed onto silks; woven into hosiery fabrics; even made into customised buttons. Or take how Jones has translated the raised stitch detail of the house’s Selleria line of leather goods into a decorative detail on the lapels of trench coats and more of the brand’s signature bags.
It’s a markedly different take from when Silvia ran the show solo following Lagerfeld’s passing two years ago. Her approach had a more playful energy compared to Jones’ stately contemplation. If one were to imagine them looking through a family photo album together, he would be the wide-eyed friend asking the elder Fendi for a slower, more careful examination.
The debuting artistic director’s wit is in the details in this monotone, neutral-hued collection – from the brand’s Selleria stitch interpreted into an embossed relief on coat lapels to the signature Sunshine Shopper given its plushest makeover yet.
That’s not to say that his ready-to-wear debut at Fendi is retrospective. As he has throughout his career, this collection also made a statement about the brand’s future. The jewellery had a particular significance: Delfina – a fourth-generation Fendi – deftly updates the classic square FF logo with an oval, carabiner-like shape across an inventive range of jewellery and even hair barrettes dubbed the O’Lock.
Then there are the brand-new bag and shoe styles that feature a sculptural “F” motif from the archives, including a sumptuous clutch with the aforementioned detail for its entire fastening. Its equally bold choice of name: the Fendi First. Consider that a symbolic christening that represents the opening of a new chapter; a first of things to come with Jones at the helm.