All roads lead to Rome it seems. No sooner did Fendi inaugurate its new headquarters at the famous Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (the Palace of Italian Civilisation) – an icon of fascist architecture built under Benito Mussolini – than Chanel brings its Métiers d’Art show to Italy’s capital. The link? The omnipresent Karl Lagerfeld, of course.
Fendi’s sleek travertine marble-clad shrine, known locally as “the Square Colosseum” and constructed in 1942 during World War II, is a must-see. Along with the 28 classical marble statues around its base, the HQ houses the fashion brand’s 450 staff,and a first-floor exhibition space for public delectation, which is free.
Running until March is Una Nuova Roma (A New Rome), a display of paintings, drawings, photographs and videos tracing the history of the building and Mussolini’s discarded dream. Designs by Italian architects of the ’90s are combined with historical images, and artworks ranging from the present to the 1950s. The work of eminent photographers (Lagerfeld, naturally) who have shot the palace is also on show, along with film extracts from cinematic luminaries (what, no Lagerfeld?) such as Roberto Rossellini, and Michelangelo Antonioni. See also the glamorous scenes from Federico Fellini’s The Temptations of Dr Antonio, in which Anita Ekberg cavorts inside the symmetrical rows of nine arches (the same number as in Mussolini’s name) and around the big white marble box.
All monumentally magnificent stuff. And what odds a seasonal Kaiser sighting at the palace, hmm?