In 1997, the Fendi Baguette debuted in a rainbow of shades, kicking off the hedonistic It bag era, a time that was as carefree as it now seems distant. Just like the golden bread it’s named for, which the French are known to carry under their arms, the petite shoulder bag has never gone out of style. But now its architect, Silvia Venturini Fendi, the brand’s 60-year-old artistic director of accessories and menswear, is reimagining the Baguette as a vehicle through which to explore her country’s enduring relationship to craft.
Part of Fendi’s Hand in Hand initiative — a collection of limited-edition Baguettes made using different artisanal traditions in workshops representing each of Italy’s 20 regions — this piece is embroidered in a densely rococo style called bandera. The method, which is named for the cotton honeycomb fabric it was once practised on, originated in the 17th century in the Piemonte region of northwest Italy. For its version, Fendi hired artisans at a workshop called Castello di Pralormo Design near Turin, where the countess Consolata Beraudo di Pralormo helped resuscitate the technique in 1992.
There, three artisans are dedicated to stitching the fabric that will eventually be used to make 10 unique Baguettes, painstakingly executing the elaborate floral and cascading ribbon motifs in the characteristic gradient style that emphasises the embroidery’s three-dimensionality. The stitchwork itself, which in this case is done on jacquard woven with the FF logo, takes 40 to 50 hours to complete. After that, the cloth is sent to the Fendi workshop in Florence, where it is hand-cut and moulded into the house’s iconic rectangular shape.
Of all of the Baguette’s new incarnations, the bandera style is particularly special to Venturini Fendi. Her great-grandmother Paola was from Turin (Paola’s son Edoardo and his wife, Adele, started the company in 1925), and the designer can remember a sofa and two small gilt armchairs embroidered in the opulent style in Paola’s living room. “I want to remind people that behind beautiful things are real people, not machines,” Venturini Fendi says. “To me, bandera is the ultimate example of that.”