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- 5 Jun 2009
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Silvia Venturini Fendi

Andrée Fraiderik-Vertino, Editor of Business Madame magazine, spotlights the creative and business force behind the Fendi empire through the multitude of initiatives the brand has unleashed over the years.

Silva Venturini Fendi was born into the Fendi family, a name synonymous with luxury leather goods since 1925. From a very young age she worked alongside Karl Lagerfeld, the man who put her family’s name at the fore of the fashion scene.

Earning its fame as a leading supplier of fine leather accessories to the world’s wealthiest, the Fendi brand expanded to include fur (1969), women’s apparel (1977) and later on, clothing for men.

Though the Fendi shop’s main trade was private, custom orders for the discerning elite, the brand opened the doors to modernity with its ready-to-wear fashion collections. Fendi’s reputation as a fashion trendsetter is linked to its innovative use of fur. Italian celebrities and international jet setters, fond of Fendi’s extraordinary fur products, brought the brand to the international luxury stage.

Silvia Venturini Fendi began the Fendi Fondazione in 2001 as a way to showcase the brand’s love for artistic expression and innovation. In addition to her many responsibilities, she is the driving motor of the foundation and its main advocate.

Her reputation as an influential figure in fashion has done little to deter her main goal— to push the company in new, revolutionary directions. This drive has led to products that go beyond the brand’s core sectors, such as this exceptional women’s bicycle covered in fine leather. Craft Punk/Design Miami is another example. A joint venture between the Fendi Fondazione and Design Miami/Basel (see picture of Silvia V. Fendi and Ambra Medda, co-founder of Design Miami) this event establishes Fendi as a leading sponsor in design alongside names such as Swarovski and Prada.


Fendi bikes designed by Studio Libertiny for “Craft Punk” at Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile

Mrs. Adèle Fendi and her husband founded Fendi in 1925 as an independent family business. Her five daughters—Paola, Anna, Franca, Caria and Aida—would go on to inherit the company and transfer the brand savoir-faire to their own children, Silvia Venturini Fendi among them.

Fendi is now the property of its majority shareholder, the international luxury group, LVMH (Prada group was an investor until 2004). The Fendi family remains in charge of the brand’s creative direction, maintaining its longstanding collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld. Mr. Lagerfeld, named Fendi creative director in 1965, introduced the brand’s famous double F logo to the world—just one of many strategic initiatives which led to the brand’s renewal.

As part of its luxury expansion, Fendi has successfully tackled new markets in Europe, Asia and North America, opening new boutiques and corner shops around the world.

Often running against the aesthetics tides of the time, Fendi has never swayed from its extravagant side. The brand has always sent flashy fur statements down the runway with no fear of anti-fur activists. When Donna Karan and Calvin Klein proposed dramatic minimalism, Fendi remained true to its glamorous DNA. Fendi has always favored bling and color over any sort of restraint. Fendi is Roman, not Milanese!

Fendi’s flagship is in Rome. Not only is it the city where the brand was born, it is also the home of its international headquarters. Palazzo Fendi was inaugurated in 2005 to celebrate Fendi’s eighty years of success.


Palazzo Fendi, Via Della Fontanella Di Borghese in Roma

There is a Fendi family member at the helm of every sector of the business. Silvia Fendi has been managing the style department for decades and is also in charge of the brand’s accessories division. She introduced the Fendissime brand and men’s ready to wear to the business twenty-two years ago.

Daughter or Anna Fendi, Silvia was granted the privilege of protecting the brand’s overall image, which includes initiating and overseeing revolutionary new ideas. The accessories division is a strategic component of brand expansion into new markets. Of course couture and key ready to wear pieces ensure the brand’s image in the media, but it is the more affordable items, such as bags, shoes, and eyewear that provide powerful cash flow.

Silvia Venturini Fendi is responsible for such successes as the Baguette, the “it-bag” that shook the fashion planet from New York to Tokyo in the 1980s. Seemingly simple at first glance, and overwhelmingly elaborate upon further inspection, the bag contributed to the brand’s revival in Italy.

After winning the affection of fashion editors it was adopted into the wardrobes of socialites and celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, who wore her Baguette religiously both on screen and off. It’s fitting that Italians rediscovered the brand through the Baguette, since it was a reinterpretation of a model created by founder Adèle Fendi. While quite affordable in its basic form, the Baguette, like the Spy bags, can reach sky-high prices when customized in precious stones and materials.

More than mere heir to her family’s brand, Silvia has proven to be a savvy businesswoman and entrepreneur. Instead of sticking with tradition and conforming to trends, she has earned her industry’s respect as a creative pioneer.

Difficult challenges, such as finding a place for unsold goods, have been met with innovative solutions. By inviting Sarah Baker, an artist who experiments with fashion recycling, to participate in the Craft Punk installation during the Salon de Mobile in Milan, Fendi showed how leftover luxury products could gain new meaning as art. Could responsibility be the new luxury?

Andrée Fraiderik-Vertino


Business Madame is a Paris-based lifestyle and business magazine for women featuring successful entrepreneurs, executives, managers and the issues that interest them.