Franca Fendi, one of five sisters who inherited a small Roman leather workshop and transformed it together into a luxury fashion house, died in Rome on Monday. She was 87 years old.
Born in 1935, from an early age she was involved in running the company which, from the 1960s, under the leadership of the sisters, became a global luxury powerhouse famous for its reinvention of the classic fur coat.
Her parents, Edoardo and Adele Fendi, had founded the fashion house in 1952, from a small bag and fur store in Via del Plebiscito. The Fendi sisters – Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and Alda – later revealed that they were often forced to sleep in drawers in the boutique due to their parents’ long working hours.
When, after a stroke, Edoardo leaves control of the brand to his daughters, Franca becomes responsible for purchasing. In 1965, she and her sisters called on Karl Lagerfeld, then a young designer, with the aim of creating a line of women’s ready-to-wear.
The German creative director was perhaps best known for his work at Chanel, but it was to Fendi that he dedicated 54 years of his professional life – the longest collaboration ever between a designer and a fashion brand – becoming what the Fendi sisters described as an honorarium. member of his family.
Lagerfeld, who died in 2019, compared the Fendi sisters to the five fingers of one hand: “Inseparable, interconnected and always operating in unison”.
“The five Fendi sisters were the first to enter the office and the last to turn off the light,” Silvia Venturini Fendi, daughter of Anna and niece of Franca, and creative director of accessories and menswear, previously said. brand children. “At the time, there were no red carpets and no visibility. Everything was done out of passion. My mother and my aunts prepared the collections at night, when the offices were closed. The workshop was a place of energy, meeting and discussion.
In 2001, the sisters sold a majority stake to French luxury group LVMH. Despite the takeover, Carla Fendi remains honorary president until her death in 2017. After Lagerfeld’s death, Kim Jones is appointed artistic director of the haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women while remaining artistic director by Dior Homme. Silvia’s daughter, Delfina Delettrez Fendi, is the artistic director of jewelry.
In September, the house celebrated the 25th anniversary of the baguette bag with a star-studded event during New York fashion week. Two weeks later he held a second show of the season in Milan. Unlike other luxury conglomerates, Fendi under LVMH continues to use real fur.
Franca had four children and was married to Luigi Formilli. In 2018, she wrote a book dedicated to her husband called You are with Me. In the book, Franca details her love for Formilli, who died in 2001, and the birth of the fashion house Fendi. In one passage, she writes: “Each of us had a field of work in which to express our creativity. This meant that the company was diversified, but always oriented towards a common goal: the desire mixed with the passion to bring the Made in Italy brand to the world.
His death on Tuesday was reported by family members. According to reports, she was struck by a sudden illness.