Though this was his third Fendi couture show, for Kim Jones it was also a first. The designer’s debut for the Roman house, a year ago to the day, was a digital catwalk presentation (which admittedly opened with Demi Moore and closed with Naomi Campbell) while his second took the form of an evocative film shot by Luca Guadagnino, the Call Me By Your Name director.
So far so good. But couture is all about the grand, often overblown spectacle – ballgowns, supermodels, Kanye West front row in a leather balaclava – and so there were great expectations for this runway outing.
The set positioned it perfectly: a blacked-out box within the old Paris stock exchange, a nod to heritage with a hanging light installation referencing palazzo columns, modernity brought right into the heart of tradition, new ideas with old money. This sums up Jones’ tenure at the brand so far – while predecessor Karl Lagerfeld spent 54 glorious years exploring the boundaries of how fur could be used, he’s already made things seem slicker, sexier and significantly more seductive in an era where fur – in Europe at least - has largely fallen out of fashion.
In fact you’d have had to look hard to see fur in this near perfect collection, which felt powerful, controlled and played to the atelier’s skill with its focus on elaborate beading, hand painting and embroideries.
From Rome’s ancient past to an imagined future, Jones used the Eternal City as his inspiration: ‘the eternity of Rome, the spirituality of Rome, the celestial Rome,’ is how he described it. ‘When you walk down the street, you are constantly moving back and forth in time. Where we work feels very modern but you pass monuments on the way there. There’s a total timelessness to the city, a historic vein which runs through it but also a movement that is projecting forward.’
Jones himself is spearheading this movement, though not immune to ancient glories; his models were celestial beings descending from the heavens with jewelled faces but dressed in an almost armoured silhouette, perched atop futuristic, heel-less shoes that looked like a new kind of sculpture.
That Silvia Venturini Fendi still serves as artistic director of accessories (as well as menswear) while daughter Delfina Delettrez is creative director of jewellery says everything about the approach: whatever else changes, this matriarchal fashion dynasty continues to put women forefront. ‘That,’ says Jones, ‘is what my vision is all about.’