Carla Fendi passed away on Monday evening in Rome. The fourth of five daughters of Adele Casagrande and Edoardo Fendi who founded Italy’s world-famous fashion dynasty, Carla helped put Fendi on the map. How did she do it and who was she?
As Italy mourns the passing of Carla Fendi, referred to as the passing of “a piece of Italian Fashion History” by Italian daily La Stampa, we take a look back at the woman behind much of the Rome-based brand’s global acclaim.
Carla’s career at Fendi began in the 1960s. Hailed by Italy’s Corriere della Sera evening broadsheet as “queen of fur,” among Italian fashion’s most famous sister act, Carla was known as “the brain.”
And her strong business mind was instrumental in taking the luxury goods firm to new levels. She donned the role of communications manager at-large, setting her sights on extending the brand’s reach to the United States market. On accomplishing her mission in 1969 on sealing a deal for Fendi’s Maxi range with New York’s Henri Bendel department store, a lucrative new chapter opened for Fendi.
In an official statement, Fendi paid tribute to the fashion guru and the woman who held the prestigious title of Fendi’s honorary president until her death: “She was for all of us a source of inspiration, and an example of dedication, work, culture and sensibility for beauty. She will accompany us forever.”
A well-connected woman, along with her sisters Carla hit the jackpot when she managed to convince Karl Lagerfeld to join Fendi in the 1960s. Some years later, she played another winning hand when she got Catherine Deneuve to become the face of Fendi fur.
Fendi’s fashionable fourth sister formed a stylish couple with Turin-born pharamacist Candido Speroni who passed away in 2013. After 55 years together, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2010 with a lavish party for 400 guests. Their sophisticated apartment in Rome was the focus of a photospread in Architectural Digest.
Fashion aside, Art and Culture were Carla Fendi’s two other passions. A well-known patron of the arts, she set up the Carla Fendi Foundation in 2007.
The restoration of Rome’s Trevi Fountains and Teatro Caio Melisso are some of the projects that underline Carla Fendi’s commitment to the Arts.
Established in 1925, the Fendi brand has come along way from its original fur and leather heritage. In addition to ready-to-wear, accessories, designer perfume and luggage, the fashion empire now carries eyewear and home furnishings lines. JB
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