At Fendi, Reveling in Real Clothes

Fendi, spring 2015. Credit Flavio Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

Fendi, spring 2015. Credit Flavio Lo Scalzo

MILAN — The new normal has arrived in Milan. The American neologism “normcore” still elicits mostly puzzled stares from Italians, but the spirit is willing even if the vocabulary is weak: bellwether designers of Italy are on a quotidian trip. According to Miuccia Prada, one of the oracles of Milan, it is not the time for crazy things.

At Fendi, Silvia Venturini Fendi was extolling the virtues of “real clothes.” She is a designer who has, in the past, taken Fendi men’s wear to the edge of sci-fi oddity. No longer. The men’s collection is growing — “faster than we expected,” admitted Pietro Beccari, its chief executive — so commerce may have tugged the design back from the brink. But it might just as well be that abnormal times require normal measures.

“The clothes are the everyday basics that must be in every man’s closet,” Ms. Fendi said. “I was working a lot on jeans and chinos, which are the base of the collection.” But basic isn’t always basic. She flipped up the hinged lenses of a pair of sunglasses perched on a model’s nose to demonstrate. “To see reality in a different perspective is useful,” she said.

Hers is: The world glimpsed through a Fendi lens. So her jeans weren’t mere jeans. They were marbled, faux-stonewashed facsimiles in leather and shearling, or lighter versions in cotton and silk jacquard. Her shower-slide sandals only looked like rubber; they were rubberized leather. Read more..