As the corporate world continues to deploy technology to make labour more efficient, what’s left for the working man to do?
Silvia Venturini Fendi posits an optimistic outlook for this changing paradigm (traditionally viewed as an employment crisis) in her menswear for Spring/Summer 2018: “The inspiration for this collection is a reflection on new opportunities, on big changes that are occurring in the job domain.
Everybody is talking about technology, androids who are going to substitute man’s work. But I believe what cannot be substituted is creativity, fantasy, vision and dreams — that is something connected to the human being.”
The result is a compelling mix of office styles and sportswear that is actually wearable in a contemporary professional setting.
Unlike the hoodie-and-jeans casualness of Silicon Valley workplaces, Fendi’s business boys dress down with playful sophistication. Rigid corporate uniforms are eased with luxe fabrications in mink and suede, and broken apart with retro sportswear elements like bowling shirts and baseball caps.
Tailored shirts lose their sleeves, work macs and suits make a sheer impression in checked organza, and artist Sue Tilley’s illustrations of everyday desk objects (telephones, lamps, keys, morning coffees) mingle with the fashion house’s iconic double-F logo.
The office relaxation culminates in what Fendi calls her “Skype looks”: executive elegance above the waist, after-hours shorts and slides below — a cheeky twist on the familiar conference-call-from-home sight gag. “It’s a reflection on new managers that are at the head of multi-billion companies, because work today is changing — you can work from home, the poolside or your hotel room,” says the designer.
Adding on, Silvia Venturini Fendi has chosen to collaborate with British artist Sue Tilley on painted artworks featured throughout the collection. A former social services worker and trained art teacher, Tilley remains a cult figure in the British art and fashion scene, known to many as best friend to the late Leigh Bowery and a frequent subject of the painter Lucian Freud.
Tilley complements the collection with motifs that paint the mundanity of everyday life in a cartoonish three-dimensional style, from glossy appliqué patches on jackets and cotton embroidered knitwear to tiny all-over prints on crepe shirts and silk twill foulards.