“I first met Anna Fendi in the ’70s with her mother Adele and her sisters Paola, Carla, Franca and Alda, with whom she created an empire – and we have been fast friends ever since.
On our visit to her luxurious home, she receives us with the warmth and grace that distinguish her in this brand-new Roman pied-à-terre, ensconced in an elegant 1930 building with the archetypical romantic courtyard and a breathtaking view over the Eternal City.
Honoured as a Cavaliere di Gran Croce, the first Italian woman to receive the prestigious award, Anna Fendi is also an IWF Hall of Fame member and the first woman awarded the exclusive Fuoriclasse Castagner Prize. As the creative director of the Fendi brand, she introduces us proudly to her new abode, where one can feel the past, present and future. Scattered with great elegance throughout her home are sketches by Karl Lagerfeld, as well as snapshots of the many actresses she’s dressed for Oscar-winning movies.
On this subject, she shocks me when she shares an unexpected confession that I’ve never heard in all the years we’ve known each other: “As a young girl, with a passion for classical dance, I simply hated fashion. But realising I had no alternative and following my mother’s motto – ‘Be always as the fingers of one hand, different but absolutely complementary’ – I immersed myself in the fashion world with creativity, rigour, discipline and sacrifice in order to achieve the many goals we have been able to conquer.”
In fact, she renovated and decorated her new house by herself. “After Fendi became a global luxury fashion brand as a member of the LMVH Group, I dedicated myself to my other great passion: scouting relentlessly for amazing residences in the most charming environments to renovate and decorate for my daughters and myself,” she explains. “It was also great fun to transform a fabulous art nouveau mansion alongside the Tiber River into Villa Laetitia, an exclusive hotel and restaurant that’s an ideal location for important events, as well as a Villa Laetitia bed-and-breakfast on the island of Ponza. It’s a locale I love so much – and where I built houses for my daughters Silvia, Ilaria and Maria Teresa, and myself.”
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The 85-year-old entrepreneur hasn’t stopped creating projects, either. Most recently, she handled the interior design of a special edition of a yacht in the Invictus yard, in collaboration with Italian yacht designer Christian Grande. From her abode in the heart of Rome, she also runs AFV (Anna Fendi Vini) with Giuseppe Tedesco, her life companion. Of AFV, she explains: “I wanted to personalise them with unusual names such as Flanella, Plissè Soleil or Negligè – all tributes to my legacy of a life in fashion. AFV: The Art of the Table is a collection of refined plates in porcelain inspired by geometry, as well as glass vases and objects in Murano glass; it’s my latest creature, of which I am very proud.”The charming entrance of the house is decorated with sculptures by Oliviero Rainaldi, Andrea Cascella and Oliviero Manca. “I always decorate my residences with my favourite artists and unusual pieces,” she explains. “Like the 19th-century teapots I’ve been collecting all my life, proudly displayed in the old family library, or the mosaic portrait of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, found at a bric-à-brac shop in Venice.”In the spacious living room, circular-shaped sofas adapt to the two libraries, while old armchairs recycled from other houses are upholstered with blue-grey velvet, as are a coffee table and chairs from her mother’s house. The effect is that of a very cosy corner that’s ideal to admire the majestic views of Saint Peter’s Basilica and other Roman treasures, framed by the green trees, through the large windows.“Every object in my house has a story; it’s what I like the most,” she says. “I made the patchwork cover over the sofa with remnants of vair fur and the black-panther pillows on the sofas come from a discontinued fur coat of a client in respect of animal rights. I bought the Austrian table during a trip to Vienna, along with the chequerboard, as well as the 45 and 78 RPM records that I go around searching for in the flea markets to play on the old Plexiglas record player, which reminds me of the beloved old times. And the two deco chairs, bought when I was very young at the Florentine antique dealer Giovanni Bruzzichelli, follow me in all my houses. I believe they bring me good luck. The patchwork jute rug is my homage to [Alberto] Burri, an artist who I love very deeply.”Celotex decorates the wing that separates the living room from the dining room, along with an early-period Mario Ceroli and an Andy Warhol on ceramic. The dining room is definitely the most representative of her world, as suggested by her latest collections. “I wanted to create a retro atmosphere, so I chose an oval crystal and mirror table, and I upholstered deco chairs in black leather with abstract motifs,” she says. “I am very proud of my Géométrie total-black plates and my Romeo and Juliet double-use reversible Murano flutes, executed with an antique technique dating from the 18th century. Every day, I love preparing the table with a different pièce de resistance from my collection.”
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A deco console, two mirrors by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Giulio Paolini, two sconces with the fasce symbol discovered at a junk dealer and the showcases full of crystals – everything creates an incredible atmosphere. A long corridor that takes guests to the private area is decorated with copper works of art by Ricciardi and sketches by Karl Lagerfeld, among which is a dress designed for her, dedicated to her daughter Ilaria. “They represent great memories for me,” she professes. “Since Karl and I met in 1965, a great story of respect, admiration, complicity and creativity started – and he brought us to the moon.”
This story originally appeared in our October 2018 issue.
Photography: Gianni Franchellucci for Living Inside