On Wednesday morning, a changing of the guards took place at Fendi, with Dior Men’s Kim Jones appointed as artistic director of the Italian luxury house.
Jones’ appointment, which includes overseeing haute couture, ready-to-wear, and fur collections for women, arrives over a year after the death of Karl Lagerfeld, who formerly held the position. In the interim, Silvia Venturini Fendi — the granddaughter of the brand’s founders, Adele and Eduardo Fendi, and the designer behind its iconic Baguette bag — took over designing for the brand, a role that she’ll continue doing moving forward, but only for accessories and menswear collections. According to a press release, Jones will also maintain his position as the artistic director of Dior Men.
“Working across two such prestigious houses is a true honor as a designer and to be able to join the house of Fendi as well as continuing my work at Dior Men's is a huge privilege,” Jones said in a press release. “My warmest welcome to Kim, to whom I am bound by deep respect and friendship,” Venturini Fendi said in the same statement. “I am looking forward to taking the Fendi universe to the next level with him.”
Despite garnering his fair share of fans and praise during the two years he’s held the top spot at Dior Men, the news of this appointment is not welcome by all. Given the state of the mostly male, white fashion industry, LVMH’s decision to put Jones at the top of a womenswear brand — especially when a very qualified woman was already succeeding in the position — is being questioned. Similar criticisms were brought up back in June when LVMH hired Matthew Williams to succeed Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy.
On Twitter, many feel that Venturini Fendi should have continued as the brand’s designer, given the applause-worthy collections she’s presented since Lagerfeld’s passing. “Now I love Kim Jones and all, but I am in severe pain mourning Silvia’s Fendi,” HF Met Gala coordinator Samantha Ashwini Haran wrote. “She resuscitated Fendi after Lagerfeld. She ate every season. RIP to a legendary era.” She’s right. For the spring ‘20 collection, she designed with practicality in mind, resulting in pieces that women could actually wear — and would want to. Ahead of the show, Venturini Fendi told Vogue that, while Lagerfeld “was the captain,” she makes the decisions now: “The choices are mine — no compromise.” A season later, she cast two plus-size models to walk on the runway — something that has never been done in Fendi’s 95-year-history.
Others are frustrated by the fact that Jones already has a job — and a good one at that. Meanwhile, there are plenty of available experienced, modern, and talented designers. “Why the fuck do they have to use the same four designers for all the houses? It’s absurd. In addition they’re all men. Why are women having the industry’s door slammed in their face? It’s loathsome,” said @beatitudomea. “@LVMH keeping it in the family,” wrote Caroline Issa, editor at Tank and Because magazines, who was followed up by Ian David Monroe, a consulting editor at V magazine, who wrote: “Kim Jones doing Fendi womenswear is so boring to me. I love what he does at Dior Men, but why? Is no one else available?”
Still, many are excited to see Jones delve once again into women’s wear, as well as bring his disrupting vision and fresh perspective — the same ones he’s shown while at Dior Men — to another storied fashion house. He will undoubtedly give us a show worth talking about come fall ‘21 when his first designs for Fendi are set to be presented.