Escapism is the best medicine, especially when living through an unpredictable pandemic, and for his first Fendi haute couture show with a live audience, Kim Jones delivers it in droves.
But where is the destination? Inside La Bourse pitch darkness is broken with a towering vertical strip of light, smoke billows out to reveal a doorway and all around thin archways appear suspended mid-air as Sofia Steinberg steps out. It's Rome, or what the eternal city would look like if it travelled through space and time, and was rehomed somewhere galactic.
The first look sets the tone, as it always does. Black but with a spacey sheen and densely beaded, the gowns high neckline is a common theme throughout the Fendi Spring Summer 2022 couture collection. As the models flow out to a synth-heavy beat, we see that in this new age there are two types of women: the Roman empress and the space commander. There's stiff shoulders and a structured, buttonless blazer worn over floor length mullet skirts that give way to lace applique tights — a uniform worthy of the captain on USS Enterprise — and quilted white gowns with sheer panelled bustiers peeking above the bodice.
It's a conversation between the ancient and the futuristic, two forces seemingly at odds with each other but both alike in grandeur and mythology. Severe mink capes and velvet mutton sleeves are softened with hand-painted scenes of marble sculptures, while Jones pays tribute to the chiton and stola — the oldest style of dress — bringing it into the present moment with midnight blue hues and decorative trims.
When it comes to Fendi, it's always about the accessories and here the jewellery crafted by Delfina Delettrez, the daughter of Silvia Venturini Fendi, was a quiet hero of the show. Craggy necklaces reminiscent of crystal geodes and dark ear cuffs with the same structure as stalactites added a surprising punk energy to the otherwise coolly romantic collection. It seems that Kim Jones is also a fan of the heelless ankle boot and pump, championing its return to the runway.
Micro bangs, severe middle parts slicked back behind the ears nod to sci-fi heros and heroines. While carefully placed crystals embellish the face in a tribute to the celestial. Where Pierpaolo Piccioli interrogated the body for Valentino and Maria Grazia Chiuri carved out a meditative space for the restorative power of creation at Christian Dior, Kim Jones doubles down on the fantasy, and with no definitive end to the pandemic in sight that's just fine by us.