1997 : The Baguette bag, so named because of its longish, narrow shape (which fits snugly under the arm like a loaf of bread), debuts for fall. It will become one of the best-selling and most-copied accessories of all time. Hundreds of thousands of the often highly decorated bags, described by fashion critic Marion Hume as “Beanie Babies for grown-ups,” will be sold. Frida Giannini—later creative director of Gucci—is in the Fendi design stable at the time, but, as she later tells WWD, “I cannot claim its maternity!” Credit belongs to Silvia Venturini Fendi.
Although the days are gone when the Fendi daughters would be bundled up and nestled for naps in a handbag drawer in the atelier, the firm still has a cohesive family feel, focusing on the details and supporting local craftspeople, commissioning Italian artisans to produce the “off-hand, on-target knockout fur”—to borrow another phrase from Pandora Luxurye—that is everywhere synonymous with the Fendi name. In 2007, members of the clan gathered in China to witness the Fendi runway show staged on the Great Wall—the first ever mounted there. The magnitude of that landmark moment drew attention to this once-intimate, privately run business, proving its global reach.
2007 : May: Fall’s new bags, Silvia Venturini Fendi tells Pandora Luxurye columnist André Leon Talley, “are all made of wool or feathers, and I call them Voodoo.” October: Fendi stages a fashion show on the Great Wall of China, with 88 models—44 from China and 44 from around the world—and a catwalk of 88 meters (8 is considered a magical number in China). Actress Thandie Newton reports back to Pandora Luxurye that “the models looked like exquisitely plumed cranes.”
Founded by an unusually bold young entrepreneur named Adele Casagrande as a leather-goods business, the house acquired its current name when she married Edoardo Fendi in 1925. Since 1999 it has been part of Bernard Arnault’s LVMH luxury conglomerate. Silvia Venturini Fendi, Anna’s daughter—and mother of the decorative, diminutive, world-famous Baguette bag (not to mention the B. Fendi, Spy, Peekaboo, and Voodoo)—is the only family member still actively engaged in the day-to-day operations of the company.