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“This is me. The queen,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, backstage before her spring/summer 19 menswear show. She was stood in front of a board pinned with a pack of cards. They had been illustrated by the artist and musician, Nico Vascerelli, the partner of Silvia’s daughter, jewellery designer Delfina Delettrez. The joker of Vascerelli’s pack of cards is Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi’s long-term women’s creative director. How does Karl feel about it? “He loves it,” she said. “Can you imagine? Of course.”
The Jo-Karl appears on a sweatshirt. A retail no-brainer. Indeed the collection was full of commercial bangers, especially a graffiti version of the double F print hand drawn by Vascerelli. It was all over zip-up tech jackets, short sleeve shirts, pants, accessories. You get the drift.
Much of Vascerelli’s work played with anagrams: a T-shirt read ROMA and then AMOR. Another, DREAM and MERDA (type it into Google Translate). A pair of pool slides had FENDI on the right foot and FIEND on the other, “like someone who is obsessed with Fendi,” she said.
Fendi’s menswear has become known for its seasonal collaborations, the three most recent with British artists: John Booth, Sue Tilley and Hey Reilly. Their work involved irony or whimsy. This work was darker. Silvia said that though Vascerelli is a father, his performances are extreme. “When he’s performing on stage, he’s like a little demon,” she said, “but when I see him with his babies he’s so tender and calm.” She said these opposites are part of Fendi, “things that don’t go together.”
Over at Giorgio Armani, life was easy and breezy. Double-breasted jackets were cut wide to hang loose. Pants were roomy, often with pleats. Maybe the relaxed mood was because Armani has cut the number of menswear shows to plan a co-ed Emporio Armani show in September instead.
Life was fine in this slow lane. There were some diversions. One model emerged with braces on back to front. Two models failed to convince that pattern cardigans should be worn with ties. We now have proof that double-breasted pinstripe jackets are better with a shirt or T beneath, rather than with a bare chest and a neckerchief. And so it goes. That’s the end of the Milan menswear shows. Next stop, Paris.
Photographs: Jason Lloyd-Evans