by Stephen Garner

Fendi hosted the first in-person event this season as part of Milan Fashion Week Men’s. The new men’s fall/winter 2021 collection designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi serves as an optimistic adventure framed within a game of illusions.

A cinematic sequence directed by the Italian artist Nico Vascellari sets the scene for ‘What Is Normal Today ft. Silvia’ – an exclusive dance-pop track composed by Not Waving. Appearing inside an immersive 360-degree mirrored tunnel, models were infinitely multiplied while entirely alone, as a maze of suspended doorways is framed in colored neon beneath the pulsating ceiling of a futuristic music video.

One by one, a broad spectrum of menswear classics is twisted with Fendi’s signature playfulness. The result is an unabashed celebration of color and light, and a universal message of solidarity and connection in surreal times. A jewel palette of emerald, vermillion, saffron, orange, fuchsia, cobalt, and periwinkle is used in contrast with black, camel, and charcoal, as linings, inlays, and slashed seams flash with contrasting textures and shades.

Throughout the collection, reversible workwear and relaxed outerwear silhouettes are highlighted. Belted overcoats and trench shapes in cashmere flannel, satin, striped fur and shearling are infused with a cozy peignoir attitude, and piped pajama hemlines bring the indoors out and the outdoors in. Diagonal quilting is seen in silk jacquard separates from a shawl collar lounge coat to pullovers, shirt jackets, and bermuda shorts in a luxuriant expression of cocooning comfort, and ‘inside-out’ tailoring features deconstructed panels that expose padded FF logo linings. And, the conventions of ribbed and cable knitting are reimagined as long johns, cardigan scarves, mitten cuffs, and a wrapped ‘sleeve’ neck sweater for a weird and wonderful take on the ‘new normal’.

An icon of the London underground scene, the multidisciplinary artist and performer Noel Fielding provides a series of psychedelic artworks for the collection, abstracting the Fendi logo and emphasizing the season’s cosmic spirit through his multicolored, stream-of-consciousness scribble art. Faces and creatures emerge straight out of Fielding’s dreamscape narrative accenting the collection’s straightforward silhouette with moments of Art Brut insanity. Fielding’s outré pop sensibility is the latest evolution in Silvia Venturini Fendi’s playful selection of artistic collaborators, which has previously included British artists John Booth, @HeyReilly, and Sue Tilley, to name a few.

The corresponding men’s accessories collection revels in the bright promise of the season’s chromatic palette. The all-over treatment of color-matched leathers, matte satin, and hardware creates dipped-effect Baguette and flatpack shopper shapes, and miniature luggage styles reprise an embossed stripe FF monogram leather as backpacks and crossbody pouches. In fancy leathers, the Baguette is scaled up and down as a roomy satchel or a lanyard cardholder, whilst Fielding’s graphic art adorns the Peekaboo and an FF buckle tote in grainy calfskin. In ultra-classic menswear tones, shearling FF slippers and slip-on laced or buckle sabots continue the collection’s indoor-outdoor conceit, joining zip-up quilted ‘spats’ ankle boots and the Fendi Force Light FF lug-sole combat styles.