Fendi began in 1918 when Adele Casagrande opened a leather and fur shop in Via del Plebiscito in central Rome. When Adele married Edoardo Fendi in 1925, they made a decision to change the name to Fendi. The business prospered, and a new shop was opened in Via Piave in 1932. By 1946 Paola, 15, the eldest of the couple’s five daughters, went to work for the firm, followed by her sisters Carla, Anna, Franca, and Alda.
In 1965 a marriage between the Fendis and German designer Karl Lagerfeld was sealed, and it proved to be fortuitous for both. Lagerfeld immediately created the inverted FF logo that joined the growing list of international status symbols, and then set about, aided and abetted by the sisters, to revolutionize the treatment of fur.
What had once been a precious but stiff and heavy garment was transformed into a light, soft, easy-to-wear and above all flattering outfit. The team went on to invent new ways of working with fur, tanning, dying, and treating, and took previously unused skins and turned them into fashionable garments.
By 1966 Fendi had presented its first couture fur collection, designed by Lagerfeld. It was an immediate success with foreign buyers. Marvin Traub, president of Bloomingdale’s, discovered Fendi’s leather goods and introduced them to the United States. Other outlets soon followed, and today Fendi has a large store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, as well as numerous Fendi boutiques around the world.
In 1969 Fendi presented its first ready-to-wear fur collection at Palazzo Pitti in Florence, bringing continuously evolving techniques and imaginative designs to lower-priced furs without sacrificing quality. When the sisters couldn’t find the fabric clothes they wanted to show under the furs their ready-to-wear line was born, again to great success. It wasn’t long before the “young” Fendissime line was born, followed by perfume and other licenses.