Fendi reveal their radical new gender agenda

The house may have traditions, but it’s embracing the future too – watch their new film aMANda here, featuring a cross-dressing Lady Amanda Harlech

When you have as much history as a house like Fendi, how do you make sure you don’t get trapped in the past? The answer, as their menswear creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi explains, is to keep an eye firmly trained on the changing attitudes of the present – and in the case of their latest short film, that means taking inspiration from the way that fashion’s gender binaries are falling away. In the clip – titled aMANda and directed by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda – longtime Fendi muse Lady Amanda Harlech dons the house’s AW15 menswear collection to journey across the Italian countryside, in search of the woman who haunts his vision. For Venturini Fendi, this decision to experiment with gender was a natural one, designed to reflect the times. “I am very much interested by unisex, no-gender fashion – which is so practical for everyone,” she explained last night at a screening of the film in West London. “I like men in skirts. I always liked the Scottish kilt! I think, why not?” Watch the film above, and read on to find how it came about.

Where did the idea for the film come from?

Silvia Venturini Fendi: I’ve always been interested in movies and cinema, and Fendi menswear has done short movies in the past. This idea came one night, talking amongst friends – Amanda, Patrick and Antonio. We said let’s do it together – it was the right moment to release a movie on this subject, the issue of masculinity and femininity. We thought Amanda was perfect for this – it was written in her name, as you can see! We thought she could represent the DNA of Fendi really well, as she’s been with us and Karl for such a long time. And she makes an inspiring woman and an inspiring man at the same time!

What inspires you about her?

Silvia Venturini Fendi: Well, I know Amanda very well. She’s so feminine and such a beautiful woman, but she has this tomboyish attitude: riding horses and being really relaxed in men’s clothes. But she can get changed in a minute into the most feminine outfit: a long, evening dress in the daytime – she’s unique in this, I think. She has a really strong personality and she’s a great actress – I saw her already in movies directed by Karl, and she’s really amazing and natural in men’s clothes.

“Even if we have a long tradition – we have a history behind us which has always been a history of breaking rules. If you think about women like my mother and her sisters in the 60s and the 70s, they were more like men” – Silvia Venturini Fendi

Why is now an interesting time to explore these ideas of gender?

Silvia Venturini Fendi: Because boundaries are falling finally, so fashion is unifying gender – there’s this new chapter. Women are really comfortable in men’s clothes and men are comfortable in women’s clothes. I noticed this already at Fendi – I saw the success of our Peekaboo, which is a bag that is for women, but is becoming a huge success for men. I’m used to this because I normally wear men’s clothes in a way – pants and shirts – because I like functionality. But I think that the opposite is interesting. It’s kind of a liberation from codes. Archaic tight codes are breaking, so it’s good!

And you see Fendi as a brand that’s keen to break these codes?

Silvia Venturini Fendi: Well, you know, Fendi has always been very open to experimentation. Even if we have a long tradition – we have a history behind us which has always been a history of breaking rules. If you think about women like my mother and her sisters in the 60s and the 70s, they were more like men. We have always been watching what’s happening around us. Even if we have our tradition and our story, I think to be relevant in fashion we have to read society. It’s not just making clothes. I think that if you study the decades of fashion you can really see how it reflects changes in society. It’s interesting, especially in Italy which is a very traditional country – we are not usually avant-garde in these subjects!