Fendi Starts New Chapter in SoHo, with Pop-Up #fendisoho

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Alexandra Richards (left), Talia Lennox (Right), photos courtesy of Billy Farrell
Alexandra Richards (left), Talia Lennox (Right), photos courtesy of Billy Farrell

The Italian fashion house Fendi was established by Adele and Edoardo Fendi in 1925 with the opening of their first boutique dealing in high fashion handbags and furs. Last night, in SoHo, Fendi opened up a new boutique, albeit one that is far different from their usual classic fashion house aesthetic. That’s right, Fendi delivered a pop-up shop entitled #fendisoho, and threw a champagne-fueled party to celebrate its opening.

Fendi remains one of the world’s premiere creators of bags, furs, and accessories. But fashion has changed as millennials have entered into adulthood, and brands now more than ever are altering their aesthetic to appeal to a younger and hipper market. Saint Laurent Paris took on Hedi Slimane as its creative director to resounding success, YSL was always a cooler brand but now even more so as Slimane combines haute couture with rock n roll-inspired ready-to-wear clothing and a nothing short of brilliant advertising campaign featuring rock stars like Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love, Ariel Pink, and Kim Gordon to model the clothing. Dior took on Raf Simmons as creative director, another designer known for his rock n’ roll influences, and has also proved successful for the company. Chanel, Prada, and you name it are all tailoring their advertisements and products to be marketed towards young, creative people. Fendi has traditionally remained, well, traditional. As Hali Berman in Racked noted, “It looks like Fendi has finally figured out  how to translate their luxury Italian roots into a language that millennials speak.”

Claire Distenfeld, Natalie Joos, and Leandra Medine. Photo by Billy Farrell
Claire Distenfeld, Natalie Joos, and Leandra Medine. Photo by Billy Farrell

So the question becomes then did the pop up attract a hipper crowd while not alienating the high-society fabulous people that provides Fendi with its bread and butter? The company isn’t masking its ambitions towards hipness, in fact, they are plainly admitting it, which makes the notion definitely less jarring and perhaps even endearing. It’s an honest ambition for a company looking to maintain a glorious history while establishing modern relevance.

“We are excited to open the
#fendisoho pop-up in one of the key shopping destinations in the world,” says Fendi CEO Pietro Beccari, “This Popup will contribute to give a great and fresh energy to the brand and will offer the opportunity to reach a younger and cool clientele that will be welcomed in a unique and surprising environment.”

Leandra Medine
Leandra Medine, photo by Billy Farrell

Yes and no. Walking around the small space located on the corner of Greene St. and Prince St. one definitely would notice a young, casually fashionable, and beautiful crowd. The music provided by DJ Hannah Bronfman, daughter of billionaire Edgar Bronfman, Jr., was not unlike music one would hear at bars and clubs in the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Bushwick and other artsier New York locales. Some Solangé tracks, mellow club tracks, hip music that won’t freak out older people, basically.

The crowd was commensurate with the space, fairly small but utterly chic and beautiful. The collection served as the perfect decoration. Along with other reporters scribbling in their notes and taking IPhone pictures of the collection, there were as one would expect, some higher-profile guests as well. And by high-profile I mean a who’s who of some of New York’s most talented and sucessful women working in fashion. Fashion model Tali Lennox, fashion blogger Leandre Medine of the beloved Man Repeller blog, Keith Richards‘ model/DJ/artist daughter Alexandra Richards, owner of luxe Upper West Side boutique Fivestory Claire Distenfeld, powerful casting agent Natalie Joos, Creative Consultant and Style contributing writer Kate Foley, and Lucky Magazine editor-in-chief Eva Chen.

DJ Hannah Bronfman, Photo by Billy Farrell
DJ Hannah Bronfman, Photo by Billy Farrell

The women all appeared to be enthused to be by what was, as expected, a dazzling collection. Of those mentioned, Richards was the only lady not already decked out in any Fendi, but it is doubtful that remained the case by the time she left. Dazzling furs, beautiful purses from the Petites collection, and stunning accessories, even as a man who has no use for any such bags can’t help but feel aesthetically pleased by the collection at #fendisoho.

How effective will this SoHo pop-up show be in igniting interest amongst the young and tragically hip? It’s of course impossible to tell at this juncture, but it appears Fendi’s marketing team has their mind in the right direction. In today’s 24-hour trend cycle, it’s harder than ever to grab young peoples’ interests, and unfortunately not even a fashion house as proven as Fendi is above such buzz generating maneuvers. #fendisoho made it feel like, even if temporarily, that Fendi is a brand for the future.

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