“I wanted to talk to you,” Silvia Venturini Fendi insisted over the driving electronic soundtrack of Fendi’s virtual menswear presentation on Saturday. It was her words set to Italian musician Not Waving’s music, and she felt it was the least she could do to maintain direct contact with people during a time of virus-driven isolation.
Not that she minds being on her own. She’s never been one for going out much. “I am quite solitary,” Silvia told me via Zoom. “I feel less guilty being more confined. I find my ideas more inside my world than outside.” In fact, she’d go so far as to describe herself as extremely antisocial. “So at this moment I’m in a perfect comfort zone.” But she insisted she balanced that by her love of watching people, just as long as they weren’t watching her. Silvia, are you saying you’re an antisocial voyeur? Yes, she answered emphatically.
Which makes the question posed by her new men’s collection quite apposite: “What is normal today? “What is normal yesterday won’t be normal tomorrow,” Silvia sagely observed. That coloured the way she decided to show. She imagined everyone watching the presentation at home, on a screen. “So I thought to present this show more as a music video, very fast, short, strong, to give us a boost.” She also pictured it as a reaction to her last virtual presentation, the women’s collection for Spring/Summer 2021, which had a distinctly elegant, adult languor.
“I imagined this on boys,” Silvia said. “I wanted to go back to a time when you have less negative thoughts. When you’re young, you don’t know what life is and you’re more optimistic. You have the strength to fight more for a better future.”
She dropped her boys into a maze of MTV neon tubing. “Light and darkness,” she intoned on the soundtrack. Another way of emphasising the interplay between Indoors and Outdoors (which is a distinct theme for the new season in Milan). Quilted linings were used as outerwear. Pyjama piping defined a camel suit and coat. Trench coats had the silky sinuousness of a peignoir. (Silvia described loungewear as her obsession.) Knit long johns were exaggerated for daywear. Sleeves became scarves. But the clearest statement was colour. “It’s vitamins,” said Silvia. “I thought to use monochromatic colour to represent a future which I hope will be bright.”
If not bright, I imagine it will be at least psychedelic when the world breaks out of its lockdown cocoon and pursues expansive experiences. Silvia seemed to have anticipated this by adding Noel Fielding to her roster of eccentric English collaborators. Right now, he’s probably best-known to the world as the skittishly goth host of “The Great British Bake Off,” but Silvia had no idea about that when she discovered him through his art. “His work represents something you have to detect,” she said. “It’s like scribbles you read as a psychological test. So it represents the confusion of the moment.” Fielding’s “scribbles” provided the colourful graphics for knits, coats and jackets.
“In this moment, you need to be many things,” Silvia said approvingly of multi-hyphenate Fielding’s art, music, writing and acting. “I like the idea of using someone who can change so easily.” Maybe she sees something of her own aspirations in him. Her potential transition to disco diva, for example. “You see I’m multitasking,” she agreed. “Next time, I’ll be cooking on TV with Noel.”