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Fendi designer pays tribute to female-led fashion powerhouse | Milan fashion week

Male designers and their supersized egos have dictated what women wear for most of the past century. But it is the female side of the Fendi family who have been in the driving seat throughout the 98-year-old history of their Italian luxury house, and the British designer Kim Jones is smart enough to realise that Fendi is not about him.

“Fendi is a female-led, multigenerational house, and that is what I love about it,” said Jones backstage before the catwalk show, which opened Milan fashion week on Wednesday.

Silvia Venturini Fendi, whose grandparents Adele and Eduardo founded the house, now designs menswear and accessories; her daughter Delfina does the jewellery. “So with Silvia, Silvia’s mother, Delfina, and Delfina’s daughter, who is nearly 16, I have the point of view of many women.”

The Fendi women are a tribe of “sophisticated working mothers who also enjoy having a good time”, said Jones. “They are a really fun family. They are women who like to do stuff. Women who are always evolving, who are interested in what’s new.”

A model wears a knitted scarlet and fuchsia dress
Slinky knits at Fendi. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

This season, Jones zeroed in on 36-year-old Delfina Delettrez Fendi, and her specific gift for making archive Fendi pieces look modern. “The first day she walked into work she was wearing blue and brown, and I thought she looked so great. There’s a chicness but a perversity to the way she twists Fendi, which is what I love.”

The result was a sophisticated, covered-up wardrobe very different from the pastel-toned, crop-topped Y2K stylings that dominated the previous Milan fashion week. Silhouettes were soft, with slinky knit dresses that warped gently around the body, shirt buttons undone, skirts with rippling pleats. Coats were the colour of milky coffee, tailoring a Brutalist cement grey. A few pieces

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