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FASHION

Fendi models walk on water in Rome’s Trevi fountain

Shimmering models wearing the latest creations by Fendi appeared to walk on water Thursday at a fairytale show in Rome's Trevi fountain to mark the luxury fashion house's 90th anniversary.

Fendi models walk on water in Rome's Trevi fountain
Models present creations by Fendi during a fashion show at the Trevi Fountain in Rome on Thursday. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Above the sparkling waters of the Baroque fountain, models wearing hand-painted dresses in pale pink, blue and cream, adorned with hand-stitched flowers or starlit scenes, glided across a transparent catwalk in the basin.
 
The soft, luxurious collection of 46 outfits was inspired by Danish fairytale illustrator Kay Nielsen, who painted colour plates for the book Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen in 1924 and also later worked for Disney, including on sequences of the film Fantasia.
 
Glittering evening gowns with slits up the sides transformed their wearers into modern-day Hansel and Gretels, the reflection of lights scintillating in the turquoise waters echoing the shine of pebbles glinting in the moonlight in the fairytale.
 
Dresses were nipped in at the waist or featured a bell skirt, the house's trademark fur coat made an appearance in lynx, but what wowed the 200 exclusive guests was a patterned cape, in grey silk, which opened at both the front and back.
 
Bags looked like they were made of fur but were actually tiny pieces of silk, sewn together to look like snakeskin.
 
As the models, including Americans Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, wound up their catwalk, designer Karl Largerfeld, wearing his trademark gloves, came out to take a bow along with the Italian house's accessories designer Silvia Venturini Fendi.
 
Coins in the fountain
 
Reaching the middle of the glass bridge he threw three coins over his shoulder into the fountain with a grin — a tradition that is said to ensure a return to the eternal city.
 
The fountain, made famous by a scene in Federico Fellini's “La Dolce Vita” in which Anita Ekberg wades through its pristine waters, was restored last year in a clean-up funded by the fashion house, which first opened its doors in the capital in 1926.
 
Commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730, it is the end point of one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with water.
 
The tradition of throwing coins into the fountain was made famous by Frank Sinatra's rendition of “Three Coins in the Fountain” in the 1954 romantic comedy film of the same name.
 
Fendi, now part of French luxury giant LVMH, said it wanted to capture the romance of the nearly 300-year-old monument, visited by millions of tourists every year, where tradition has it visitors can ensure eternal love by drinking its waters.
 
For those not lucky enough to bag tickets to the show, the house was putting on a sumptuous dinner for 600 guests at in the city's Villa Borghese park, decorated for the occasion with Roman fountains.
 
As part of its anniversary celebrations, the fashion giant is also hosting an exhibition in the Square Colosseum, its headquarters in Rome, from July 9th to October 23rd.
 
Entitled “Fendi Roma: The Artisans of Dreams”, the show explores the creative history of the Italian house through a video installation and drawings by Lagerfeld of his most prized creations.

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DESIGN

Inside the world of Italy’s designer to ‘the 0.001 percent’

Florence-based luxury designer tells of super-rich customers who shop by private jet, and his experience of dressing the Pope.

Inside the world of Italy's designer to 'the 0.001 percent'
Italian luxury designer Stefano Ricci (C) poses with his sons Niccolo (R) and Filippo, during a preview of his Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Photo: AFP

Italian luxury clothing designer Stefano Ricci and his sons are touring the sumptuous Reggia di Caserta near Naples by horse-drawn carriage as they unveil their latest clothing collection.

The tour the vast gardens at sunset, stopping to sip champagne as models in impeccably-tailored suits in grain yellow, flaming red and galactic blue pose near an ancient fountain.

The grounds of the Reggia di Caserta palace  near Naples. Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

The decision to host an intimate preview of their Spring/Summer Collection 2020 at the UNESCO world heritage site, rather than during Milan's frenetic fashion week, is emblematic of a brand the New York Times dubs “Clothier to the 0.001 Percent”.

The Florence-based menswear and accessories brand, founded in 1972, has outfitted celebrities from Andrea Bocelli to Morgan Freeman and Tom Cruise, as well as world leaders like Nelson Mandela, and even Pope Francis.

The latest collection, which features pinstripe suits, colourful knitwear, field jackets and a tux, is named “King for a Day”.

Models wearing Ricci's creations. Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

In an era where designer goods can be bought online or snapped up in outlets, Ricci says he offers the world's wealthiest men a personalised experience in buying Made in Italy items created using traditional Florentine sartorial techniques.

“Our customer still needs to experience the emotion, to touch the product. Have it explained to them in person, see the tailor, have his measurements taken, be told a story,” Niccolo Ricci, the company's CEO, told AFP at the preview this week.

“He wants to be pampered for an hour,” he said.

Collected by private plane

“Sometimes we have superstitious customers who want trousers, a suit, shirts for example for important appointments, and given the extremely tight deadlines they give us to deliver the clothes, they send their private plane to get them on time”.

Whether hankering after a 5,050 euro suede jacket or a 1,600 euro silk-and-crocodile baseball cap, the typical client is an “alpha-male”, preferably an outdoorsy type with “a love of antique art”, according to Stefano Ricci.

Stafano Ricci. Photo: AFP

“The Ricci man loves the mountains, the woods, dogs and – I'm not afraid to say it – hunting,” he said.

The bearded designer, 67, a keen hunter himself, says his passion for high-end tailoring is “a virus”.

“When it gets hold of you, you produce more, more, more, until you say 'what the heck can I invent now to better this?'”

His latest challenge? “Creating a material which has a compact structure but is at the same time extremely soft… and luminous, not like polished glass but like the skin of a beautiful young girl”.

“No price limit”

Focusing on the richest segment of society in emerging markets like Russia, China and the Middle East – the brand is about to open a shop in Turkmenistan – has shielded it from factors weighing on sales at other luxury houses.

“We've found there is no price limit if the customer finds himself with a quality product,” Niccolo Ricci said.

READ ALSO: The richest Florence families in 1427 are still rich today

“So even for a suit that costs 25,000 euros, if the customer understands the work that has been done on it, the quality of the fabric, our commitment to sourcing quality raw materials for our exclusive collections, then the customer is on board”.

The 2018 financial year closed with a turnover of 150 million, and the company registered a five percent growth in the first quarter of this year “despite difficulties such as the tariff war between the US and China, (and) Brexit or no Brexit”.

Photo: AFP

“I have been lucky enough to do something I love, to work with my wife, my family, and I've now passed the baton to my sons,” Stefano Ricci says as he stands at the top of a vast marble staircase leading to the royal apartments.

“I design the collections a bit, I give guidelines, I participate in the process, but I'm much more relaxed now”

Among the highlights of his career is a white silk vestment made for Pope Francis in 2015.

“I dressed the pope! I can't do better than that, it's the truth,” he laughs. “I couldn't hope for more”.

READ ALSO: The little-known tax rule that's got the super-rich flocking to Italy 

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