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Fendi logo against white marble.

The History of Fendi

Known as one of the top 5 luxury designer brands to originate in Italy, Fendi is a force to be reckoned with on the high fashion scene. Like the history of the house of Gucci, the Fendi story has a humble beginning. Before the luminous lights of catwalks and celebrity partnerships, there was a simple workbench and someone with a vision…

Here are the most notable moments that determined the place of Fendi in high fashion history.

The origin story

The luxury Italian brand has its roots in Rome. In 1925 Adele and Edoardo Fendi started their company as a fur and leather atelier. Before they married, Adele (née Casagranda) had been designing fur and leather products in a small workshop on Via del Plebiscito.

As they grew their product collections, the Fendi brand became popular and eventually, the couple were able to open shops in several locations.

Growing success and the Fendi family

Fendi fashion, especially their fur coats, became exceptionally popular and the brand continued to grow. After the death of Adele and Edoardo, ownership of the company passed to their 5 daughters. Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and Alda each owned an equal share of 20%. Paola stood as the president of Fendi for many years but eventually handed the role down to Carla. She held the role until 2008 when she stepped down.

The history of Fendi is still entwined with the Fendi family.
Anna Fendi | Photo by Renovatio88 on Wikimedia Commons

Anna’s daughter, Silvia Venturini Fendi, and her daughter, Delfina Delettrez Fendi still play a creative role in designing collections for Fendi.

Karl Lagerfeld joins Fendi

An inspirational and commanding presence in the world of fashion. Karl Lagerfeld has had a huge impact on the fashion industry, and he worked as a creative director for Fendi from 1965 until his death in February of 2019.

As fur became seen as an outdated material, Karl was brought on board to modernise the Fendi use of fur with unique colours and patterns. He shot their campaigns himself and was responsible for creating the now iconic ‘FF’ fun fur logo now synonymous with the Fendi brand.

A black and white line drawing of Karl's side profile.
A profile drawing of Karl Lagerfeld | Photo by Henning Schlottmann on Wikimedia Commons

A change of ownership

After being owned by the family Fendi for over 70 years the controlling share of the Fendi brand was eventually bought by Prada and LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) combined.

For a sum of $51 million, the companies owned 51% of Fendi, with a contract condition that if or when the Fendi sisters wished to sell their shares, the two brands would be obligated to buy. Eventually, LVMH bought Prada’s percentage, and also a further share from one of the Fendi sisters.

The Square Colosseum

In an iconic move, Fendi relocated its head office in 2015 to the Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana often known as the ‘square colosseum’. The imposing building has a richly decorated interior which guests can visit and even stay the night at.

The Square Colosseum sits gleaming in the sun surrounded by trees. It is inspired by the colosseum structures of ancient Rome and modern minimalism.
The Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana | Photo by Ágatha Depiné on Unsplash

Did Fendi ban fur?

Despite making a big statement in 2021 to phase out some fur and exotic skins, fur can still be seen on Fendi catwalks and within stores. Animal rights activists have campaigned for change, however, Fendi states that fur is deeply entwined with their heritage. The history of Fendi began with fur, so their reluctance to let go of this material is understandable.

Fendi today

By the 21st century, Fendi had firmly cemented its place as a high fashion powerhouse. The Fendi Baguette bag, popularised in the late 90s by Sex and the City has entered the Vogue it-bag hall of fame. Iconic catwalk shows over the Trevi fountain and Great Wall of China caught the attention of even those outside the world of fashion. Even secondhand Fendi bags remain highly coveted as those who appreciate fashion hope to own an element of this iconic brand.

A side view of the Trevi fountain with orange and yellow buildings of Rome behind it.
The Trevi fountain in Rome | Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash
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