Anticipation had been building since cryptic gold-and-white invitations were sent out last week, signed “Donatella” and inviting guests to “something special”. Rumours quickly spread that Versace would be collaborating with Fendi on a secret show.
On Sunday night, the two Italian powerhouses unveiled their joint collections at a star-studded show that disrupted traditional fashion conventions. Fendace, as it has been nicknamed, was not a collaboration, the designers were quick to point out, but rather “a coming together”.
It involved the creative directors of both houses swapping roles, with Donatella Versace sharing her vision of Fendi, and Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi expressing their interpretation of Versace.
“Both a celebration of Italian fashion and a to-hell-with-it disruption of the established order of things, Fendace is Fashion with a capital F – and a capital V. Together they stand for freedom, fun and virtuosity,” the designers said.
Inspired by Versace’s creative output in the mid to late-1990s, Versace by Fendi was an exploration of duality and featured a melding of the Fendi Monogram and Versace Greek Key motifs. Garments were fluid and transformative, in many cases reversible or featuring hidden features. It was celebration, above all, of the exceptional craftsmanship of the Fendi atelier.
Fendi by Versace, meanwhile, embraced more of a punk rock stance, with Versace safety pins puncturing Fendi motifs and symbols. Chain mail was mixed with lace and crystal-encrusted Fs, while silk faille mimicked denim.
“It’s a first in the history of fashion: two designers having a true creative dialogue that stems from respect and friendship. It led to us swapping roles to create these two collections,” said Donatella.
“Friends, idols, mentors ... It’s the beauty of togetherness,” added Jones, artistic director Fendi couture and womenswear.
On the runway, famous names from across the generations made an appearance, including Adut Akech, Naomi Campbell, Gigi Hadid, Imaan Hammam, Stella Maxwell, Kate Moss, Lila Moss, Emily Ratajkowski, Anja Rubik, Irina Shayk and Amber Valletta.
It was a powerful show of solidarity and a positive marker of how things might be done in a post-pandemic fashion world – a world of collaboration, cross-pollination and unification. The precedent has already been set: last year, designer Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada announced that they would be equal partners at Prada, while in April, Gucci presented a show that referenced rival brand Balenciaga.