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Stefano Pilati Is Kim Jones’ Latest ‘Friend of Fendi’

The collection for men and women drops on Oct. 26, backed by in-store events and a dedicated campaign.

Looks from Fendi's fall 2023 collection.COURTESY OF FENDI/JOHNNY DUFORT

When in Rome, Stefano Pilati feels right at home, fashion-wise — even more so than his native Milan.

“There is a freedom in the Roman style that Milan does not have,” he said. “It is a sunnier city where everything is more — more feminine, more masculine as well as bohemian and eccentric.”

The designer plans to apply his “very Italian” aesthetic, his tailoring prowess and flapper energy to his forthcoming collaboration with Fendi on a fall collection under the Roman fashion house’s new “Friends of Fendi” banner.

The collection is slated to launch in Fendi boutiques and online beginning Oct. 26, backed by in-store events in London, Dubai, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

WWD broke the news on Sept. 14 that Kim Jones, who has made collaborations a key feature of his tenure at Fendi, was plotting one with Pilati, one of the designers he admires most.

“He is a friend, an inspiration and a designer for modern times — always looking to the future, asking questions and proffering solutions,” Jones said.

As Jones does as Fendi’s artistic director of haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women, Pilati said it was important for him to recognize that Fendi was founded by five sisters, and perpetuated by a third and fourth generation of designing women, namely Silvia Venturini Fendi and her daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi.

Venturini Fendi is artistic director of Fendi accessories and menswear, while Delettrez Fendi is jewelry creative director. Jones often takes inspiration from their personal style.

A look from Stefano Pilati’s Friends of Fendi collection.COLLIER SCHORR

“I wanted to celebrate the Fendis — as I always celebrate women,” Pilati told WWD from his home base of Berlin. “I asked myself, ‘So what now? What is my heritage?’ All of these women are beyond and it was logical for me and Silvia to talk about them, to talk about our shared heritage of women. I love Silvia and Delfina. I love the way they move, speak and discuss. You learn and you respect.”

Pilati’s one-off collection spans the menswear and womenswear divide at Fendi, and he started with tailoring.

“It’s a celebration of who somebody is — a celebration of that freedom,” he said. “Even when people try and disguise who they are, something comes through — a gesture, a way of walking, how something is worn. It is the light of who somebody really is. I need the process to guide me and I was very free. I came up with a new logo for this collection. I felt free enough to do so.”

Prized for his keen fashion instincts, voluptuous and distinctive tailoring — plus his knack for eye-catching shoes and handbags — Pilati said he settled on the Roaring Twenties, which have parallels with today, and particularly the flapper.

“There is a sense of flux and transition in the silhouettes themselves. Things are undefined and unfinished,” he said. “It is a question of defining things now, of being open, open to new ways of defining is important both for the clothes and the attitude.

“I am so touched by this opportunity that Kim, Silvia and Fendi have given me to be so much myself. I am very honest in what I am proposing and I am humbled by what I am doing,” he added.

According to the company, Friends of Fendi represents a “new way to introduce special projects and collections that differ from Fendi’s main collections and are achieved with outside designers, houses and organizations.”

Instigated by Jones and Venturini Fendi, it will unfurl as “projects and collections” that cross the “party lines” of the fashion industry.

Pilati’s designs will be featured in a dedicated print and outdoor campaign that will break in the lead-up to the product drop. The collection covers all product categories.

A look from Stefano Pilati’s Friends of Fendi collection.COLLIER SCHORR

Jones has already unfurled projects with two other designers with whom he is very friendly — Donatella Versace and Marc Jacobs.

Pilati is best known for his tenures at the design helms of Yves Saint Laurent and Zegna. He has recently dabbled in furniture design alongside his Berlin-based fashion collection Random Identities.

The dapper Italian designer made a splash during Paris Fashion Week last June, taking in Jones’ spring 2024 men’s show for Dior and walking the runway for Pharrell Williams’ debut as menswear creative director at Louis Vuitton.

In the fall, Pilati rebooted his Random Identities label after a two-year hiatus and lined up a like-minded distribution partner in Dover Street Market Paris.

Random Identities was boundary-breaking when it was unveiled in 2018, initially as a joint venture with Canadian online retailer Ssense. Genderless, seasonless and luxurious, but at a contemporary price point, it draws on gay and club culture in Berlin, where Pilati has based himself since leaving Zegna in 2016 following a three-year stint.

His Friends of Fendi collection reflects his more freewheeling approach, combining “the rigor and structure of a masculine world” with feminine lines, particularly in the tailoring, according to the house.

Pilati came to international prominence when he succeeded Tom Ford at Saint Laurent, where he served as creative director from 2004 to 2012. Earlier in his career he worked in senior design and fabric development positions for a number of Italian fashion houses, including Miu Miu, Prada and Giorgio Armani.

Jones, who joined Fendi in September 2020, wasted little time in pursuing collaborations and in September 2021 unveiled a full-scale brand swap with Versace.

Last year he tapped Jacobs to create a collection within spring 2023 Fendi women’s collection that was shown during New York Fashion Week and also teamed with Tiffany & Co. for special Baguette handbags.

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