Fendi’s latest artistic collaboration recalls the fruitful friendship between fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and illustrator Antonio Lopez


In 1969, the fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez met Karl Lagerfeld on a proposal from the editors of French She, who proposed to Lopez to design a collection for Chloé, the French fashion brand for which Lagerfeld was then creative director. Lagerfeld instantly connected with Lopez, whose illustrations brought unprecedented character and verve to the clothes, models and personalities he sketched, captivating, as fashion critic Cathy Horyn writes in a recent article for The Cut, “the energy and sexuality of the times – on the floor dance as well as the streets.”

The two became close friends for many years. Although they did not collaborate officially, Lopez inspired Lagerfeld endlessly, in his personal and professional life, in part thanks to the close circle of friends he moved into, which included personalities in the art. and fashion, like Warhol’s muse. Donna Jordan, Jerry Hall and model Jessica Lange, who then moved on to the theater; Pat Cleveland, Grace Jones and Tina Chow; and her own friends, a group of fashion-obsessed young revelers from the Bronx, where the artist grew up after her parents moved from Puerto Rico. Lopez championed diversity in fashion, showing how much personal style can vary and how glamorous it can be in all its forms. And although he and Lagerfeld eventually had a falling out – not reconciling until Lopez’s death in 1987, shortly before he was diagnosed with AIDS – his influence continued to be felt in Lagerfeld’s designs.

Photo by Jacopo Raule / Getty Images.

So it’s no surprise that in late September, Fendi Creative Director Kim Jones launched a spring / summer collection paying homage to Lopez and Lagerfeld’s successful relationship by reimagining a number of the artist’s illustrations for her handbags and clothes.

Working in conjunction with the Antonio Lopez Estate, run by Paul Caranicas and his niece, Devon Caranicas, Jones achieved Lopez’s bold color schemes, patterns and shapes – pronounced zigzag patterns, black hand brush strokes. lifting and sensual figures formed using a single line for chic caftans, mini-dresses and all kinds of Fendi handbags, from Baguette to Croissant to Peekaboo. This latest piece – arguably the most striking accessory in the collection – features a design that reveals a twisted body away from the viewer and the underside of a skirt-clad hip, from which unfurls a series of stripes. rainbow that in many ways is reminiscent of Lopez’s stripe. centered explorations while working as a freelance illustrator for The New York Times Magazine In the 60s.

Photo by Victor VIRGILE / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Photo by Victor VIRGILE / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

What the bag – and the rest of the collection – illustrates so well, the Caranicases feel, is the spirit of Lopez. While he wasn’t the first to pay homage to the artist’s work – a 2017 Kenzo collection by Carol Lim and Humberto Leon famously showcased him – Jones brought him to life in a unique way thanks to the infusion of his own ideas and patterns inspired by those of Lopez, instead of faithfully reproducing them on his pieces.

“What’s so exciting about Fendi is that they didn’t so literally translate the artwork,” Caranicas told Horyn. This is a particularly interesting endorsement given that supervisors of artist estates typically keep a close eye on how an artist’s work is performed, how it is used for current product releases like this, often disapproving. reinterpretations. Usually, they are reluctant to cede access to an artist’s archives for fear of being misrepresented or lending a helping hand.

Photo by Estrop / Getty Images.

Photo by Estrop / Getty Images.

But not in this case – in fact, the Caranicases felt that Jones being able to bring Lopez back into Fendi’s bosom in a way mended the estrangement the artist had had with Lagerfeld and the Italian house, and furthermore brought them back. showed that Jones was the right one to bring Lopez’s sensibility to this new collection. “Things come full circle and there’s not really an explanation as to why these things are happening,” Paul Caranicas said in his interview with Horyn. “Kim is obviously a very talented person and recognizes Antonio’s genius. I think Karl was a little jealous of Antonio’s genius, and maybe that way it’s poetic justice that things come full circle. loop.

The bag and the collection will be available for purchase in the near future.

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