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Milan Fashion Week has kicked off with the Italian most prominent fashion houses showcasing their latest collections for autumn/winter 2023-2024. On the first day, Italian luxury label Fendi deconstructed masculine tailoring at its womenswear fashion show as Artistic Director of Couture and Womenswear Kim Jones explores classicism and elegance through the lens of subtle subversion.

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For Autumn/Winter 2023, Kim Jones explores classicism and elegance through the lens of subtle subversion. Drawing directly upon the wardrobe of Delfina Delettrez Fendi – how she wears her FENDI archive with an instinctive sense of self-expression – here is a collection which plays with binaries: the exploration and elevation of deconstruction; the interpolation of gendered archetypes; the disturbance of ladylike sophistication. The illusion of insouciance is elegantly constructed, and pieces are designed to be worn every which way.

Masculine tailoring and traditional fabrics are twisted into feminine forms, while elements of utilitarianism appear throughout: boilersuits, aprons, uniforms. Lace is lacquered and layered; flashes of fetishism appear through slips of lingerie peeking through, or thigh-high lace-up boots. A clean-cut mac falls open to flash its sequined lining; bias-cut draped dresses or Persian lamb bibs appear with harnessed straps.

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In a perfected perspective on punk, knitwear appears cleanly slashed or gently warped. Felted wools are slightly shrunken, ribbed knits left unbuttoned, or worn askew. Satin dresses with a twisted drape are romantically trailed by billowing scarves. “It’s deconstructed, but luxurious. There’s a little nod to punk, and my admiration for DIY, but moved on towards something chic,” explains Kim Jones. “The first day that Delfina 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.”

With graphic motifs drawn from the Autumn/Winter 1996 FENDI archive seamlessly expressed in intarsia, alongside Karl Lagerfeld’s 1981 sketches for multipurpose knitwear offering a formative inspiration, the history of the House is reflected anew.