Hand In Hand

Fendi honours Italian craftsmanship through the iconic Baguette bag, with a grassroots ‘Hand in Hand’ partnership and a visual journey across the country showcasing the time-honoured skills of craftspeople, who are reviving their specialities and applying them to this timeless handbag turning it into a prized objet d’art.

Honouring its perennial appreciation for Italian handcrafts, luxury Roman maison Fendi announces ‘hand in hand’, a grassroots partnership with local artisans across Italy. Beginning with the Baguette handbag – designed by creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi in 1997 – this unprecedented project showcases the time-honoured skills of craftspeople across Italy whose specialities in the applied arts continue Fendi’s long history of reinterpreting this iconic shape. The ‘hand in hand’ project calls upon a diverse group of ateliers and workshops, from Liguria and Campagna, to Piemonte and to interpret the Baguette by applying local craft, transforming its traditional handbag construction into a veritable objet d’art. Unifying each limited-edition Baguette in an edition of 20, the inside pocket of every bag is stamped with the atelier’s name and location, and the gold ‘Fendi Hand in Hand’ logo.

“I am developing a special project with Italian artisans, each one selected from a different Italian region,” says Silvia Venturini Fendi. “The first example is the leather Baguette bag that was presented on the Fall/Winter 2020-2021 catwalk. It is made in Tuscany by a man who normally makes small leather goods all by hand in small quantities. He makes everything by himself. It’s made of vegetal leather, very natural, and there is no stitching, it’s just bonded. My aim now is to explore every Italian region and select the best artisans still working today – and then expand the project worldwide.”

The name ‘hand in hand’ represents the encounter of the local artisans’ hands with the Fendi artisans’ hands, giving life to a unique collaboration. Ancient hand-made abilities and priceless techniques come together in the creation of these one-of-a-kind pieces. Above and beyond the creation of artisanal Fendi products, this project establishes a strong network of human relationships and is a crucial step in preserving and transmitting the rare craft, creativity and savoir-faire of these local artisans across Italy.

Unveiled with Look N°13 on the Fendi Women’s Fall/Winter 2020-21 catwalk, this ‘hand in hand’ partnership takes us to Tuscany, where the Florentine atelier Peroni have been crafting small leather goods made of a typical vegetable-tanned leather through an historical Florentine artistic technique named ‘cuoio artistico fiorentino’ since 1956. The third-generation family business specializes in shaping rigid structures like the timeless ‘tacco’ coin case, allowing them to approach the Baguette by cutting a single piece of leather and moulding it – without lining or stitches – into a glossy, bevelled frame Baguette. Crafted in dark chocolate brown, the Baguette’s signature FF buckle is sheathed in leather too, creating a seamless, monochrome effect that highlights the precise nature of Peroni’s handmade leather creations. It is a long handmade procedure that involves the wetting of the leather that is then placed on a wooden form to give it the desired shape, Peroni artisan could be almost called a sculptor of leather.

Travelling west to the island of Sardinia, the ‘hand in hand’ partnership shifts the focus away from leather to textile craft. In the hilltop village of Ulassai, the Su Marmuri women’s cooperative has been dedicated to weaving tapestries by hand since 1971 in order to preserve the traditions of the territory. On manual looms, artisans weave threads of natural fibres to create a raised relief of intricate dots, in a weaving technique affectionately named pibiones, which meaning ‘grapes’ in the local Sardinian dialect. For Fendi, the Su Marmuri weavers have created a black and white diagonal stripe motif for the body of the Baguette together with a FF logo pattern weaved on the inside. This soft Baguette is left unlined to celebrate the double-sided beauty of the pibiones weaving and is embellished by a long mutton fur round the sides.

In the heart of Venice, Veneto, the ‘hand in hand’ partnership delves into the archives of the jacquard artisans Luigi Bevilacqua , with five centuries of family experience crafting opulent Venetian textiles. Handwoven on 18th century looms, Bevilacqua’s soprarizzo ‘over the curl’ silk and cotton velvet represent the most artisanal timewise intensive ‘hand in hand’ project, as each millimetre of the rich floral brocade motif inspired by the ancient venetian repertory, is cut and woven by artisans who produce few centimetres of fabric per day. Lined in powder pink silk, this Baguette evokes the spirit of Venice and the colourful history of its palazzos in all their faded beauty. The bag is further enriched by the FF buckle sculpted in jasper with lizard details and handle, together with a knotted interlaced satin strap.

Going south to Puglia, the ‘hand in hand’ partnership honours a long collaboration with the Dodino lace artisans based in the village of Nardò. Their delicately looped and knotted lace designs are tatted on wooden shuttles to create concentric, flowery designs in a traditional Apulian technique known as chiacchierino – referring to the chatty atmosphere of the artisans as they work. Applied over a padded cotton and linen base, the chiacchierino lacework seems to float in 3D floral clouds over the surface of the Baguette, which features a special FF buckle adorned with seed pearls.

Inherent to the Marche region of central Italy, the technique of interlacing wicker, leather and cord is dated back to the Renaissance period and has been passed down through generations at Bottega Intreccio in Mogliano. This ‘hand in hand’ project celebrates the local custom of weaving specifically with willow branches, that after many years has been picked up and worked from this artisan specially for Fendi. The willow tree is native of the Marche region and therefore there is a limited amount available that is collected during spring. During the workmanship of this Baguette the willow is soaked for a few days in order to make it more flexible before it is interlaced by hand by the artisan around a metal frame. The result is a Baguette accented by the natural textures and tones of this supple wood with a woven willow motif inspired by the baskets used in the past by local fishermen and finished with vegetal leather details.

Across to Umbria, and the opulent handwoven fabrics of the city of Perugia are the focus of the next ‘hand in hand’ collaboration, honouring the highly decorative and historical patterns recreated since 1921 by the atelier Giuditta Brozzetti. This initiative is one of the first examples of female entrepreneurship, with a dedicated laboratory that offers work opportunities to local women who would have once practiced weaving and made wedding linens at home. Located inside a Franciscan convent, the fourth-generation family business continues to produce authentic hand-woven textiles inspired by Medieval designs on antique looms from the 19th century. For their Fendi Baguette the atelier, operated today by Giuditta Brozetti’s grand-niece, Marta, have reproduced a historical textile with a two-tone scrolled motif featuring horses, peacocks, unicorns and doves from classical mythology in a bright royal blue against a neutral background. This royal blue hue imbues the bag an innate opulence, intrinsically linked to the aristocracy of a bygone era who had access to rare indigo pigments from South East Asia. The Baguette is finished with handmade macramé lace inspired by the original trimmings of Medieval textiles.

Known as the town of lace, Isernia is found in the region of Molise (near the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’), on the country’s east coast. Worked with fine white-coloured yarns, the bobbin lace of Isernia is acclaimed throughout the world for its flat geometric patterns and ultralight spirals made with fine wooden bobbins and a traced pattern held over a cylindrical cushioned support. It is said that Benedictine nuns brought the tradition from Spain in the early 16th century, passing down the technique to the sisters of the Santa Maria delle Monache church. This Fendi ‘hand in hand’ project is realized in partnership with the GC Corredi lace parlour through the hands of the expert lace artisans, with Isernia lacework panels overlaid on a Baguette crafted in white nappa leather.

Throughout the coastal province of Cosenza in Calabria, the art of weaving ‘ginestra’ broom fibres has been passed down through generations since antiquity – a manual practice that requires no electricity, elaborate machines or chemicals and produces zero pollution. The hardy shrub is harvested through summer and treated by hand to create the raw, cool fibres that have been woven into the natural panels that form this plant based Fendi Baguette in collaboration with the Fabbrica Tessile Bossio. The bag features designs inspired by local traditional motifs and the iconic FF logo pattern is dyed with natural plant-based tinctures. Long fringes made of broom threads entirely knotted by hand decorate each side of the bag.

In Fendi’s hometown Rome in the region of Lazio, the city’s rich history of marble marquetry and silver and goldsmithing are united in the work of master jeweller Massimo Maria Melis. Since 1974 in his renowned atelier and boutique in the Via Dell’Orso, in the heart of the centre of Rome, Melis has garnered an international following for his intricate Etruscan and Roman style jewellery that incorporates ancient coins, polychrome glass and marble. For this Fendi ‘hand in hand’ project, a precious Baguette sees a fusion of Fendi’s leather craft with Melis’ gold-plated silver appliqué ‘bezel’ flourishes created with the lost wax technique and inlaid with hand-carved very rare marbles coming in very limited amounts as extracted from quarries that are now closed. The bezels are made from a special ancient Roman technique called ‘granulatura’ that creates a motif around the bezel like a groove. Two precious original bronze coins from the Imperial Period portraying Roman Emperors appear on the front of this Baguette.

Across to the Abruzzo region, the next ‘hand in hand’ collaboration sees Fendi call upon Simona Iannini, an artisan from the city of l’Aquila, to create a Baguette made entirely of ‘tombolo aquilano’ lace. This very ancient, meticulous technique exists since the 1400s, when various architects used to design projects reproduced in detail by the local ladies. It became a popular art form often practiced by the Benedictine nuns. ‘Tombolo aquilano’ workmanship sits apart from other lacework due to the fact that the continuous threads are interlaced and never cut, sewn or knotted as the artisan creates the desired pattern– for a Baguette like a precious jewel. This Baguette has olive wood details inspired by the fine wooden bobbins used for this unique workmanship, which uses interlaced linen threads forming a delicate net design with small FF logo inserts, and a lace strap. It requires more than 100 hours of work just to create the body of the bag. Once the bag is completed, the unlined lace is then starched using an ancient technique for rigidity and left to dry on a wooden form for three days.

In Trapani, on the island of Sicily, the master goldsmith Platimiro Fiorenza is considered one of UNESCO’s Living Human Treasures – a jeweller and goldsmith specialized in the art of setting red coral that preserves a local art form that has existed since the 12th century, the last of the master goldsmiths and coral artisans, heritage of a unique craft knowledge. Handmade in his atelier, the Fendi Baguette features a unique façade of red coral elements making this one of the most precious ‘hand in hand’ project. With soft leather sides, the front and back are constructed from polished metal panels that are cut-out to create a geometric pattern where the corals are then placed using the ‘retroincasso’ (back recessed processing) technique, like a precious casket.

FENDI Baguette hand in hand_Trentino Alto Adige

Close to the Austrian border, the alpine region of Trentino Alto Adige is home to an ancient tradition of peacock feather ‘quillwork’ embroidery. Peacock-quill embroidery (known as Federkielstickerei) is the skill of artistically decorating leather with split feather shafts. This craft, used since the Middle Ages, gained increasing importance in the 19th century thanks to the decoration of traditional costumes, called Tracht. The costumes were considered a status symbol back then - a decorated belt could correspond to the value of two horses. Rather than the bright, shimmering plumes, this alpine custom sees artisans trim the naturally shed long white feather stalks or ‘quills’ into a flexible medium to create raised embroidered designs in pre-perforated leather. Often reserved for decorative belts, shoes and saddle bags, the third-generation atelier Federkielstickerei Thaler, for this ‘hand in hand’ partnership, have applied this technique to a Fendi Baguette in black vegetal leather, with the body, handle and a strap the recall the traditional costumes, all adorned with quillwork in Tyrolian mountain floral designs.

FENDI Baguette hand in hand_CAMPANIA

In Sorrento, Campania, overlooking the bay of Naples, an intricate technique of inlaid woodwork has been found in Benedictine monasteries since the 6th and 7th centuries. Named ‘tarsia sorrentina’, this delicate craft sees artisans cut and set fine pieces of contrasting wood in tabletops, music boxes, jewellery boxes, picture frames and other precious objet d’art. In partnership with Stinga Tarsia, a family-owned workshop in the heart of Sorrento, a structured Fendi Baguette in veneered panels of briar burl wood that is inlaid with a fancy FF logo pattern in pale maple and with a glossy finishing is created for this ‘hand in hand’ project. Framing this flowery grid of FF logo inlay, Neapolitan baroque motifs of flowers, leaves and gryphons reflect the traditional designs of this technique, complemented by soft gold hardware, a handle and strap in linen-coloured crocodile.

In the industrial northern city of Varese in the verdant Lombardy region, the master luggage makers Bertoni Valigeria are a powerhouse of modern leather craftsmanship. Since 1949, Riccardo Bertoni and his sons have been creating made-to-measure trunks and custom luggage designs for customers around Italy and the world, with an in-house carpentry atelier allowing for rigid leather designs to be realized from start to finish in their workshops. Transforming the Fendi Baguette into a miniature trunk ,for this ‘hand in hand’ partnership, Bertoni Valigeria have created a structured model that features three pull-out drawers – functional jewellery boxes in FF chamois leather encased in an emerald green Baguette made of extremely precious agate-polished crocodile enriched by a wide matching strap.

FENDI Baguette hand in hand_EMILIA ROMAGNA

Reaching back to the 5th and 6th centuries, the Byzantine tradition of hand-cut mosaic tilework: the art of assembling a minutia of tiny pieces of glass or ceramic into exacting patterns and pictorial scenes across walls, floors, and ceilings. This especially intricate craft requires great precision and patience. In the city of Ravenna in the Emilia Romagna province, the Akomena Spazio Mosaico workshop have continued the practice since the late 1980s drawing inspiration from the city’s fabulous mosaic’s heritage. Mimicking the golden eight-pointed stars, symbol of Ravenna, an all-over star mosaic representing the starry sky of the mausoleum of Gallia Placida- adorns this unique Fendi ‘hand in hand’ Baguette with each delicate ‘tesserae’ glass piece backed in gold or silver foil. Mosaic ornaments extend across the strap and FF buckle, with their warm sparkle shining inside as a golden lambskin lining.

FENDI Baguette hand in hand_PIEMONTE

On the Franco-Swiss border, the Piedmont region is the home of ‘bandera’ embroidery, a colourful style of raised wool and cotton thread embroidery on white honeycomb fabrics known as ‘painting with a needle’ that has been used throughout aristocratic homes to decorate tableware, curtains, pillowcases, bed trimmings and other soft furnishings. Since the 17th century, embroiderers have traditionally stitched bright floral patterns and Rococo flourishes with chain and satin stitch on a humble cloth backing, achieving soft colour gradients with lighter and darker thread work. Established by Consolata Pralormo at the 13th century Castello di Pralormo – where she also founded the Italian School of Embroidery in 1992 – Pralormo Design have rejuvenated this centuries-old craft that all but disappeared in the 1960s. In their joyful Fendi ‘hand in hand’ Baguette, a traditional pattern of blooming flowers, leaves and curling ribbons made of wool twisted pink, blue and green threads, has been applied onto a base of the Maison’s Iconic FF jacquard.

FENDI Baguette hand in hand_VALLE D'AOSTA

In northwestern Italy, the small alpine commune of Champorcher in the Aosta valley, Valle d’Aosta, has revived the hand-weaving of local natural textiles, namely a sturdy cloth of undyed hemp embroidered with customary red motifs. This family tradition closely resembling cross-stitch has been continued by the Lou Dzeut women’s cooperative since 1989, who have mixed lettering, geometric and floral patterns for their Fendi ‘hand in hand’ Baguette. Today, the cooperative still possesses antique wooden handlooms, where while weaving the weaver’s hands and feet must move in syncopation, like the gears in a machine. Numbers and letters were often used to teach this craft to children, a historical anecdote that sees the inclusion of a repeating Fendi Roma 1925 border that crosses the Fendi’s iconic ‘Pequin’ striped motif with traditional Valdostan ajour.

To the northeast in Carnia, in the Udine province of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Fendi ‘hand in hand’ Baguette initiative turns to the work of Carnica Arte Tessile, a family-owned weaving workshop specialising in the cotton and linen jacquard brocade textiles endemic to the region since the 1700s – a traditioned often practiced at home on family looms. Bordering the Carnic Alps, the motifs of their delicate work are derived from high-altitude flora such as the thistle, mountain lily, and alpine sea holly, and woven in European linen and Egyptian cotton threads. Overlaid with Fendi’s Sellerissima stitching on a grid of beige Cuoio Romano leather, this Fendi Baguette features a pale blue cloth adorned with a Fendi exclusive design of beige mountain daisies.

FENDI Baguette hand in hand_LIGURIA

Just outside Genova on the coast of Liguria, the medieval tradition of filigree silverwork is alive and well in the town of Campo Ligure – where over thirty workshops still continue this meticulous practice of decorative folded silver thread. Applying this precious structural craft to the Fendi Baguette, the Effe-Erre atelier have created an exquisite, lightweight silver cage design in which delicate silver ‘lace’ frames flourishing curlicues of filigree. Suspended inside, a delicate silver pendant replaces the bag’s internal pocket, while the façade is emblazoned with a brushed silver FF buckle and held with a laminated strap.

In the Basilicata region of southern Italy, the small town of Anzi sits high above sea level in the hills of Potenza. Since the 1950s, Salesian nuns have ushered in the return of openwork embroidery there, applying the technique to white and natural linen in a decorative combination of tonal cut-out lace motifs and cotton flower thread embroidery. For the Fendi ‘hand in hand’ project the Ma.Ma Creazioni women’s collective have crafted a delicate natural linen cover for their Fendi Baguette, arranging a colourful bouquet of regional wildflowers such as rosehips, daisies, violet and Lily of the Valley in a symmetrical design surrounded by curling ribbons of openwork ajouré. This unique Baguette cover conceals a white Baguette in Cuoio Romano leather trimmed in bright orange leather piping and a Sellerissima stitched FF buckle.

The ‘hand in hand’ initiative is a significant step in honouring Fendi’s commitment to Italian craftspeople across the country – artisans who are keeping traditional production methods alive today. These local workshops and ateliers are at the very heart of the Made in Italy movement, and Fendi believes in promoting their talents and passion in preserving ancient handmade workmanships on an international scale today more than ever. Together, we can celebrate the unique possibilities of Italian creativity and preserve age-old craft for the future.


Priya Kumari Rana

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