From fashion collaborations with athleisure brands and artists, couturiers continue to find fresh ways to keep consumers on their toes. Stella McCartney, for example, teamed up with 85-year-old American artist Frank Stella who lent the fashion designer his catalogue of minimalism and maximalist abstraction for a vibrant Fall 2022 collection. For Nike fans, this June will see the launch of the Louis Vuitton and Nike “Air Force 1” collection of sneakers designed by the maison’s late artistic director Virgil Abloh.
Taking a giant leap forward, we now have two iconic Italian maisons — Versace and Fendi — swapping places to create collections for each other. Led by Versace’s chief creative officer Donatella Versace, together with Fendi’s creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi and artistic director Kim Jones, “Versace by Fendi” and “Fendi by Versace”, otherwise known collectively as Fendace (pronounced fen-dah-chey) — sees Jones creating for Versace, and Donatella creating for Fendi.
This unique exchange of roles and brand codes has culminated into two visions where Fendi’s considered approach to accessorising and craftsmanship marries with Versace’s unbridled concept of more-is-more dressing. The result is a 50-piece mens and womens collection of contemporary silhouettes that fuse both brands’ design hallmarks and motifs, where one can expect plenty of loud and emotive prints, and fun logoism is fully embraced.
Jones’ collection for Versace features many of the house’s signature styles, such as safety pins, the iconic Baroque print, sheared furs and sheer lacy dresses inspired by the late Gianni Versace. Donatella’s collection for Fendi embodied the designer’s signature sexy aesthetic with pieces like micro-mini dresses, mesh outfits, 1970s-inspired denim pantsuits and shimmery gowns.
If you love Fendi’s handbags, you will adore the Fendace Peekaboo and Baguette that combine the iconic Fendi bag’s silhouettes with Versace codes, and the Fendace La Medusa handbag where the Fendi FF logo meets Versace’s Medusa.
See also: The art of political dressing
Both collections were launched last September during a pre-fall 2022 joint fashion show at Milan Fashion Week, with pieces modelled by the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Gigi Hadid and Amber Valletta.
This intersection of brand codes reminds us of last year’s “Hacker Project” by Balenciaga and Gucci, which merges the house codes to explore and question the ideas of authenticity, counterfeiting, and appropriation within the fashion industry.
With Fendace, however, the intention for the collections is a lot simpler and more meaningful: It is all about celebrating the beauty of friendship and mutual admiration for each other. “It’s a swap rather than a collaboration and, most of all, it is done out of friendship. It is the beauty of togetherness after time apart and a celebration of women who have inspired me so much,” says UK-born Jones in a press statement.
Supposedly, the idea for the project was first tossed around in February last year at a dinner at Donatella’s house with Jones and Fendi, whose mother was best friends with Gianni. Throw in a pandemic and the longing for human connection, and the pair — who never really knew each other well — hit it off like old friends.
“I’ve always looked up to Donatella, and Versace is part of the culture I grew up in; it’s a cultural phenomenon. And when things in fashion become cultural, they last for a very long time and that’s very interesting. With Donatella, I don’t know a single person in the world that doesn’t know her and doesn’t fall in love with her when they meet her — that’s Donatella’s magic,” Jones tells Women’s Wear Daily.
The project meant that the designers got to visit each other’s maison — Versace in Milan, Fendi in Rome — like an exchange programme, and dive into their brand’s archives. “By looking at the codes and marrying them with the present, this is our interpretation of what we see,” says Jones. “Fendi and Versace have this legacy, and young people are getting into them finding their parents’ clothes. Young girls are going to go completely wild over it.”
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“The campaign captures the same sense of friendship and energy we had when we were designing the collection. Kim is a visionary designer and innovator. To me, Fendace will always mean love,” says Donatella.
Launched in May, “Fendi by Versace” is available at Versace showrooms, while “Versace by Fendi” collection will be sold at Fendi stores, with online offerings on both platforms. A capsule of co-branded looks for Fendace is also available at both fashion houses.
Will there be a continuation to this fashion swap with more products or collections? The designers remain hush at the moment. But as collaborative projects go, we suspect this may be a one-off venture, so you best grab those pieces before they disappear!
PHOTOS COURTESY OF FENDI