Some logos are good. Some are bad. Some are downright ugly. And some are so legendary, they transcend the brand itself to take on a life of their own. The Fendi logo is just such an emblem. The double letter 'F" monogram has become so iconic, people who've never heard the name 'Fendi' still recognize it. But what's its story? And what creative genius created it? Stay where you are, because you're about to find out.
The History of Fendi
Fendi was founded in Rome in 1925 by Adele Casagrande and Edoardo Fendi. With its focus on refinement and luxury, it soon became the go-to destination for anyone with a taste for the finer things and the money to buy them. Fast forward to the 1960s, and Adele and Edoardo's five daughters (who'd taken over the running of the company in 1945) decided the time was ripe for a new direction. Enter Karl Lagerfeld, a designer who'd already enjoyed extraordinary success at Balmain, Charles Jourdan, Chloé, Krizia, and Valentino.
Initially hired to modernize Fendi's fur line, Lagerfeld had soon given the entire company a thoroughly modern make over. But it wasn't enough to turn mole, rabbit, and squirrel pelts into high couture. Lagerfeld wanted to make Fendi different to all the staid, traditional furriers around. He wanted a fun, creative, youthful fashion house, one that made the kind of fur coats that appealed to more than just the grand old dames of Europe. Essentially, he wanted to turn Fendi from a company into an internationally recognized brand. And how better to do that than with a logo?
The Birth of the Double F
According to legend (or maybe just lofficielusa.com), Lagerfeld created the famous inverted Zucca (or Double F) in less than 5 seconds during his first meeting with the Fendi sisters. “I drew the [Double F logo] in three seconds,” he later recalled in Loic Prigent’s 2013 ‘Karl Lagerfeld Sketches His Life’ documentary, “and it became the acronym of the house.” “He had no idea how big the logo would eventually become,” one of the sister's daughters, Venturini Fendi, adds. “Otherwise he probably would have taken more time to create it, but it just grew in such an organic way.” Armed with a new logo, a new creative strategy, and a new sense of purpose, Fendi was ready to take on the world.
As heroine.com writes, Lagerfeld’s logo had both a lingual and creative meaning. It stood for everything that Lagerfeld envisioned for Fendi, 'Fun Furs'. Before Lagerfeld's creative impudence turned the fashion world on its head, fur was what rich women with a taste for austerity and old school luxury bought. But this was the 60s. Austerity was out, and light-hearted playfulness was in. The new logo was more than just a logo, it was a message to the world that things at Fendi had changed.
For the next 3 decades, Fendi (or more specifically, Lagerfeld) milked the logo for all it was worth. Fortunately, the market at the time was nothing if not logo-driven. Louis Vuitton and Gucci had made logo-emblazoned t-shirts, bags, dresses, and everything in between the height of desirability, and their brands the height of fashion as a result. Fendi did the same, capitalizing on the trend to the point that it became almost impossible to find a single Fendi item that wasn't stamped with the famous Double F. Admittedly, the logo went through a few changes over the decades, but in its essence, it was still the same instantly recognizable inverted Zucca that Lagerfeld had drawn up all those years before.
The Early Retirement
But then the logo-madness reached saturation point. By the early nineties, wearing a prominent logo on your chest was fashion-suicide. Suddenly, discretion became the buzzword. If a fashion house wanted to carry on stamping their goods with a logo, they had to find a quieter way of doing it. Some responded by doing just that. Others decided to back away from their logos completely. Fendi followed suit. If you wanted the world to know you owned a Fendi handbag, you suddenly needed to find a better way of doing it that simply shoving the logo in its face.
It may have died a quiet death in the early nineties, but you can't keep a good logo down for ever. Over a decade after it sent it into early retirement, Fendi revived its iconic emblem in 2018. Rather than quietly re-introduce the Double F to its products in a stealthy way, Fendi decided to celebrate the re-launch with a bang.... and a slight update on Lagerfeld's original creation.
“After many years of not doing it, we are redoing the logo,” Venturini Fendi told vogue.me. “It was designed by Karl in 1965 and was very popular in the 80s but then for a long time we didn’t use it in such an evident way.”
Launched in May 2018 at the FF Reloaded party, the new logo kept the spirit of the original, but featured a more contemporary, squarer shape. Along with the party (an event so fabulous, even Drake was on the guest list), the re-imagined logo got an uproarious reception when it featured heavily on the accompanying capsule collection of ready-to-wear and accessories aimed at the millennial market. “We were getting big requests among the younger kids and fashionistas. Logos are so popular among millennials,” Lagerfeld said. “The collection celebrates something very dear to us and represents so much of the house’s name.”
The Double F wasn't, as some people believe, Fendi's first attempt at a logo. Prior to that, its mascot had been a rather strange one (for a fashion house, at least) - a squirrel, standing on a branch and holding a nut. But it was the Double F that transformed Fendi from a minor fashion house that few people had heard of into to a billion-dollar enterprise that's known and loved the world over. Karl Lagerfeld may be gone, but his logo is still very much with us - and long may it stay that way.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith