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Could ‘Fendace’ Be the Future of Collaboration?

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Though the fashion industry might appear to be one based on competition and exclusivity, two luxury Italian designers challenged that notion on Sunday night with a runway show complete with a star-studded lineup of models and attendees.

Versace and Fendi closed Milan Fashion Week with “Fendace,” a presentation of the pre-Spring 2022 pop-up collections created by Kim Jones, Fendi’s women’s wear artistic director and Silvia Venturini Fendi, Fendi’s men’s wear designer, and Donatella Versace of Versace. The designers “swapped” fashion houses to each create 25 logo-laden looks based on the other’s archive.

In an interview with Vogue, Jones said the idea for the “design-off” came in February after their ready-to-wear shows when the designers were looking for a way to celebrate the return of live events. He added that the intention for the presentation wasn’t virality or competition, but rather “we wanted to do it because we love each other.”

The end result was a Fendi by Versace collection with a rebellious, youthful influence, best demonstrated by a reimagined Fendi logo with crystal-encrusted details throughout. Versace’s use of bold accents like safety pins and pops of hot pink and vibrant blue was a clear indicator of the swap. The Versace by Fendi collection also played with co-branding and centered on duality, incorporating the Fendi monogram with Versace’s signature Greek Key motif.

Presented by a range of veteran and contemporary models such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Emily Ratajkowski and Irina Shayk, the casting was equally monumental. Dua Lipa, Winnie Harlow, Elizabeth Hurley, Cole Sprouse and other A-listers were in attendance.

Versace and Fendi closed Milan Fashion Week with “Fendace," in which each brand’s designers swapped to create a total of 50 looks.
Fendace Aitor Rosás Suné/WWD

The concept of temporary leadership swapping isn’t entirely new in fashion. In April, sister brands Balenciaga and Gucci made waves when Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele showed a collection rife with Balenciaga influences in what it calls “The Hacking Project.” In June, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia hit back with his own take of the Gucci brand, debuting creations like handbags featuring a double-B logo in place of Gucci’s iconic double-G emblem.

With new collaborations dropping seemingly every day, creative partnerships like this are likely to continue—and the more they bring together companies that are otherwise rivals, the more of a splash they’ll make.