As artificial intelligence swirls around us, frightening some and shocking most, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s real and what’s authentic. Fashion, while awash with innovation and technological advancements, remains a hallowed hall, safe – for the most part – from the sterile clutches of AI. At yesterday’s Fendi menswear show, Silvia Venturini Fendi stayed true to the house’s heritage, choosing craftsmanship over comfort. Here, artificial intelligence still surpasses the mystique of artificial intelligence.
Held just outside Florence at Fendi’s new leather goods factory, the show marked a symbolic return to the Tuscan countryside, a move focused on both innovating for the future and appreciating the past. Nearly a century ago, Venturini Fendi’s grandmother (and Fendi founder) Adele traveled to Florence to learn the art of leather craftsmanship. Now, 100 years later, the light-filled atrium of the futuristic factory served as a backdrop for Fendi’s utilitarian collection with an elegant bent.
The utilitarian inspiration that drives the show as indisputable. Whether it’s the corporate businessmen who run Fendi or the artisans who painstakingly craft each piece, the concept of work permeated the runway. Toolbox-inspired handbags and leather skirts layered over office khakis and collared shirts nodded at Fendi’s taste for practicality. Workwear meets formal wear… detachable Fendi name tags? All very elegant in the office.
Tool kits and work aprons were taken from the backstage of factory life and thrust into the spotlight. Sleek overalls, denim aprons, and whatever other craft game was going on here sure looked good. Intricate pleats in jackets and button-downs were accentuated by dark lining, while suiting silhouettes remained sharp, confident yet understated. Graceful beyond compare and steadfast in their position, like a determined businessman nailing a pitch.
In terms of accessories, Fendi continued its lively exploration of utilitarian elegance – the key word being playfulness. Knotted jacquard bags were vaguely reminiscent of an office sack lunch, I mean, that’s still Fendi we’re talking, while a monogrammed coffee mug straddled the line between style and sense. Rubber clogs rounded out the shoe department, another sign of the house’s penchant for practicality.
The show as a whole lends itself to some level of self-reflection, on the process of high fashion, the institution of work, whatever it is. Regardless of whether or not the audience sees a valid representation of the Fendi factory on any given day of the week, the concept requires a level of transparency, or at the very least, visibility into the world of artisanal work. Rather than living in the mystery of artificial intelligence, questioning what lies behind our favorite tech-created designs, Venturini Fendi makes the case for artificial intelligence, showing us JUST what happens behind the scenes.
Click through the gallery below to see every look from Fendi Spring/Summer 2024 Menswear.