If Kim Jones’ Couture debut traced his transition from England to Rome, then Autumn/Winter 2021 sees him settle in the Eternal City, where the poetics of Roman film director Pier Paolo Pasolini present a lens through which to explore the capital. “Rome is a fascinating city because it has so many pasts – and I was drawn to Pasolini because I have always been inspired by his vision of the world,” explains Jones. “He is something of an outsider in Roman history, but one whose voice remains constant.”
Pasolini’s perspective on reality is reflected and refracted throughout, with chapters of Rome’s history interwoven and addressed within a contemporary context. In a collection where nothing is quite as it seems, where forms and fabrics introduce infinite illusions, filmmaker Luca Guadagnino frames the show through his own understanding of Pasolini. “I have long admired Luca’s work – and, he is someone who, like Pasolini, touches on subjects which are relevant to now,” says Jones. “When a historian peers into history, they do it directly,” Guadagnino explains. “But when a master filmmaker and poet like Pasolini looks into the eyes of history, his gaze is a sublimating one. Through it, history becomes an urgent and delicate possession of now… the past enters the present and breathes our air.”
Overlapping temporalities are most directly expressed within pieces that reanimate antique garments, their furs and fabrics scanned and reprised as ghostly silk jacquards. Inset with Cornely embroidery and crystal beads, they locate a poetic transfiguration of the past within the present day. Elsewhere, life is breathed into the Roman statues that surround the FENDI Palazzo, their marble drapery now expressed through trompe l’oeil silks, and the arches they inhabit adapted into the heels of shoes. The strength of their silhouettes is translated into delicate lace mini dresses, where classic volutes are conjured through intricate embroidery.
The immortal allure of Italian stone, and the methods of its manipulation, appears as a constant conceit. Pietra dura inlays become supple leather intarsia; pressed leather pleats capturing the illusory spirit of Bernini’s sculptures. Formed from Italian marble, hand-carved jewelry ripples with movement, as if frozen in time. Mother of Pearl mosaics are layered across tulle dresses, handbags, and shoes, while a jumper is pieced in Persian lamb.
The cultural crossroads of Ancient Rome is reflected through a diverse cast, comprising models of all ages. “At the time, it was the centre of the world,” says Jones. “I wanted to include all of the people who would have inhabited it then, as well as now.” The spirit of FENDI, of looking to this city’s past as it projects towards the future, is revitalised once more.