Text by – ELENA GRANVILLANI
Translation by – JULIA PERRY
In the heart of the fashion district just a few steps from the Duomo, the Manzoni Theatre opened the doors to a retro exhibition that seemed very interesting by its eye-catching poster: “Making dreams – Fendi and the cinema.” One of the oldest Italian fashion houses, a firm believer of the “Made in Italy” stamp, offered to fashion and movie lovers, as well as to those who wanted to spend an afternoon different from the usual, the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of the Fendi sisters. The exhibition was open for a very brief period of time: from September 21st to October 6th, perfectly placed in the context of the glamorous Milan fashion week.
At the entrance there are flight attendants, all dressed up, who take visitors up the elegant scarlet staircase in the Teatro Manzoni to the entrance of the hall. After passing the first space, which is dedicated to watching clips of 50s and 60s cult movies, you enter a location engulfed by dim light and classical music, reminding us of the great soundtracks by Ennio Morricone. The course is marked by important architectural structures, and if you pay close attention you can see that all the columns within the theater actually rest on the pit of the stage: a wrought iron and glass staircase under which you can see the padded seats.
You are immediately greeted by the voice of the Fendi sisters, explaining the reasons for the exhibition: “Cinema and fashion are not worlds in their own right but interact with each other in order to create a perfect combination in the production of the film”, a union that is found in the creation of the costumes, in this case, the fur. The furs of every age are, in fact, the real protagonists: positioned along the inner walls of a wooden structure, reminiscent of an open film. You can admire those worn in films such as “007 – Never Say Never,” “The Legend of the pianist on the Ocean” and “I am Love” from 2002. Below an arch, deliberately inspired by the structures of Cinecittà, is a dummy that elegantly holds the fur coat worn in “Cat Woman” on his shoulders. Even the Fendi sisters present themselves to the public dressed in fur from head to toe in the introductory video to the exhibit.
The last module of this magical path is the most virtuous: climbing up a flight of stairs, you enter a small pavilion covered with screens on which flickering and changing light are projected along with thousands of brightly colored lights which are reflected on a white fur set in the center of the room, also used as a display. It’s astonishing looking at this incredibly high expression of cinematic creativity labeled Fendi: the visitor walks through a time tunnel from the past towards the future, starting with sketches to get to the real fur, and ending up in a timeless place filled with special futuristic effects.
Only now is the sense of “making dreams” better understood, which stands out with a hint of pride next to the words “Fendi and the cinema”: the maison claims that the craftsmanship, that Italian “know-how”, characterizes Fendi since 1925 and has accompanied them ever since their humble beginnings as a leather goods company. It’s not only the manual work, though, but it’s also the constant research that expertly mixes together with the manual to give life and imagination to these dreams, those same dreams that are narrated in the film by Giuseppe Tornatore, Martin Scorsese and Luchino Visconti, some of the directors with whom the Fendi sisters collaborated over the years. This tribute to Cinecittà doesn’t want to just be a marketing strategy on the part of the Fendi maison, but rather a way to encourage even the most reluctant audience to take an interest into the world of fashion: the shimmer and glamour are just the outline, the result of the work and passion that lie behind it all create a story, the history of cinema as the history of our country.
It has now come to the end of the exhibition, the room doors are closed and the spotlights are turned off, all that’s left is to exit this dimension suspended in time and follow down the scarlet staircase, in a bit of a daze by the music and the dark, but certainly with eyes full of wonder.