The Wife Swap of the Fashion World

Photo: Courtesy of Fendi

“It’s a first in the history of fashion,” said Donatella Versace about a special runway show held in Milan in the courtyard of the Versace family mansion. What happened was a sort of Wife Swap — although considerably more luxurious, opulent, and Italian: Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi of Fendi and Donatella Versace literally swapped houses. “Fendace,” if you will.

The runway show, straightforwardly titled Versace by Fendi — Fendi by Versace, opened with veteran model Kristen McMenamy wearing a slinky black gown. But with a closer look, it became clear that this wasn’t simply a Versace affair, and the Fendi monogram made several appearances — on gold chokers, on bracelets, on shoe and dress straps, on belts that say “Fendace,” and on handbags spliced with Versace’s own logo. At 25 total looks, the collection was inspired by the mid- to late-’90s era of the Italian house under Gianni Versace — the ’90s house soundtrack underscored this. Kate Moss and Amber Valletta closed the first half of show together, and the Medusas overlooking the runway rotated to reveal the double-F Fendi logo designed by Karl Lagerfeld.

Along with the logos, the energy also switched up into more of a party for the Fendi collection designed by Donatella, who took a “punk-rock approach … with rebellious notes,” according to the show notes. Drake, Future, and Young Thug’s “Way 2 Sexy” blasted as models stomped in silk minidresses and separates printed with a dizzying combo of Fendi’s double-F and Versace’s signature Baroque prints, denim, and crystal-encrusted chain-mail going-out dresses. Remixed Fendi Peekaboo and Baguette handbags were finished with golden Medusas, and models even wore blonde Donatella wigs, in case anyone forgot the whole swap thing.

Just to be clear, though, this was not a collaboration, but rather “a celebration of Italian fashion and a to-hell-with-it disruption of the established order of things,” according to the brands. Fashion collabs, whether explicitly called it or not, get a lot of attention because of how much noise they make, but Versace and Jones said that this show was decades in the making and not necessarily a commercial thing, recalling Gianni and Karl Lagerfeld’s friendly rivalry. “Here are two Italian dynasties joining together. Karl was Gianni’s best friend and Karl didn’t have many friends; you could count them on the fingers of one hand,” Versace told WWD. “I remember them laughing and talking and making jokes. What I have in my eyes is a moment of happiness.”

Of course, the swap of it all was the spectacle’s backbone. But the models! What other show would close with Naomi Campbell and have supermodel legends Shalom Harlow, Kate Moss, and Amber Valletta walking along with the new guard including Gigi Hadid, Precious Lee, Paloma Elsesser, Emily Ratajkowski, and Adut Akech?

If you haven’t seen the opulent, supermodel-studded spectacle yet, watch Versace by Fendi — Fendi by Versace here.

Fendace: The Wife Swap of the Fashion World