Collaborations are rife at Fendi. They may not encourage the kind of hype or mania that has become somewhat typical of collaborations by big-named luxury fashion houses, but they're seamlessly incorporated into each collection as part of a larger narrative. It's also not unusual for Fendi to work with a number of collaborators within a collection—from artists to sportswear brands and even other luxury brands.
That only means there's quite a lot to unpack and discover each time a Fendi collection makes its runway debut. And for Fendi's autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection, Silvia Venturini Fendi made it a tad more difficult to figure everything out; nothing was as it seemed.
While previous collections featured evolutions of Fendi logos and typefaces, Venturini Fendi took things further by reimagining—and in a sense, evolving—the way garments are perceived. The result is a relatively simple collection that focused on sartorial sleight of hand. Trompe l'œil details on outerwear, shirts and knitwear take centre stage, adding multiple pockets tailored for cardholders, earphones and cigars—essentially making a garment an oversized wallet for the body. Long overcoats are constructed with zipped panels so that lengths can be easily manipulated to as short as a cropped jacket.
As if deciphering all those hidden details wasn't enough, the collection rounded off with a surprise collaboration with conceptual brand Anrealage. Founded by Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga in 2003, Anrealage centres around challenging the concept of clothes by adding subtle twists to create semblances of unreality (Anrealage is a portmanteau of 'a real', 'unreal' and 'age'). Since 2011, the brand has been focused on incorporating technology into clothes in order to expand the idea of how clothes could potentially be more than what we've accepted them as.
For autumn/winter 2020, Fendi adopted Anrealage's photochromic technique. "In the finale there are these four garments that have been realised with Anrealage by Kunihiko Morinaga, who I call a 'fashion scientist'. He has been working for many years on techno-fabrics and so we worked together on a fabric that changes according to the sun's rays that we recreated with UV lamps. But in reality you don't need to have those lamps," explained Venturini Fendi.
The technology in question was first seen during Anrealage's autumn/winter 2013 collection where fabrics changed colour according to exposure to ultraviolet light. At Fendi, the technology was applied to a quartet of quilted looks—including mittens and bags—changing the colour as well as unveiling hidden details. On white quilted pieces, they instantly turned a characteristically Fendi yellow. And on another set of pieces, exposure to light revealed a new expression of the FF logo, the Fendi Code, as a black print set against the white base.
There may not be a real purpose to the tech-infused fabrics, but it's an example of how, even with Fendi's almost 100-year history, the fashion house isn't afraid of experimenting and disrupting the conventional. And with luxury often being linked to personal experiences and emotions, not much is more luxurious than a surprise that only the wearer is privy to; at least until it's been revealed.