MILAN — Celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the Baguette bag are still going strong at Fendi.
After the buzzy fashion show dedicated to the milestone and staged in New York during fashion week, the brand is to release a book paying tribute to its Hand in Hand initiative. First launched in 2020, the project is aimed at spotlighting Italian craftsmanship by tapping local artisans to reinvent the iconic bag that Fendi’s artistic director for accessories and menswear Silvia Venturini Fendi designed in 1997.
Last year, for the second edition of the initiative, Fendi opened the doors of its Roman headquarters Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana to the public for an exhibition showcasing 20 one-of-a-kind Fendi Baguette bags that Venturini Fendi developed in collaboration with 20 ateliers and workshops, each located in an Italian region, from Trentino Alto Adige and Valle d’Aosta to Calabria and Sicily.
The book aims to further highlight those pieces as well as 10 additional creations, celebrating the work of 30 artisans. These reinterpreted the bag’s signature rectangular design and its FF logo buckle with special techniques — such as mosaic, hand embroidery and weaving — and precious materials, ranging from vegetable leather, coral, filigree and gold chiseled to wood, lace, brocade and peacock feathers , to name a few.
“It pleases me to work on certain techniques that, to me, seem unchanged — and then to observe how, when working by hand, an error can become a virtue,” Venturini Fendi says in the book. “Indeed, an error can become the idea for innovation. This, I believe, is couture today.
“Fendi ‘Hand in Hand’ is a couture initiative, because it presents Baguette bags that will not be replicated; They will be a limited series of unique pieces,” states the designer in the volume, additionally underscoring how the initiative “aims to sustain local traditions, the work of craftsmen and the transmission of skills to new generations. Above all, sustainability is about human commitment, transparency and civil respect.”
Three people have helped compile the tome, touching on different subjects. These include art critic and curator Eugenio Viola, who traced the evolution from craftsmanship to craftcore by examining this development with a specific relation to fashion, art and technology; fashion designer and author Orsola de Castro, who emphasized the value of looking back in order to move forward and spotlighted why crafts need to be protected and preserved, and artist Aldo Bakker, who explored what constitutes a craft. Their texts are flanked by images of the unique Baguette bags by Italian photographer and artist Lorenzo Vitturi.
While a special handcrafted edition of the book realized in 25 copies on paper made from Italian hemp fiber is not for sale at the moment, the printed version will retail at 80 euros on Fendi’s website starting Thursday, coinciding with the launch of the Baguette 25th anniversary collection paraded during NYFW.
As reported, on that occasion Fendi’s artistic director of haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women Kim Jones came together with Marc Jacobs to design the tribute looks. On the runway, new versions of the actual bag came in Tiffany Blue, Swarovski crystal-covered or in hand-molded sterling silver as well as made over into bum bags, backpacks or nano pieces swinging from belt loops.
The show drew the likes of Kate Moss, Kim Kardashian, Christy Turlington Burns and Sarah Jessica Parker, who put the accessory on the map in “Sex and the City,” in an episode where her character Carrie Bradshaw uttered the now-famous line” this isn’t a bag, it’s a Baguette.” The show was closed with a surprise appearance by supermodel Linda Evangelista.
Last month, Fendi also unveiled a new state-of-the-art accessories plant in Tuscany, Italy, which produces some of its signature bags, from the Baguette to the Peekaboo, and small leather goods. Based in Capannuccia, Bagno a Ripoli, a 30-minute drive from Florence, it telegraphs the fashion house’s ongoing commitment toward environmental sustainability and social responsibility, offering improved efficiency and a beautiful location to work in.