Carla Fendi, Fashion Pioneer in a Female Dynasty, Dies at 79 – New York Times

Soon after the company moved to a site near the Spanish Steps in 1965, Fendi bags, furs and scarves became beloved by Hollywood, European royalty and the global glitterati. In the next decades, Carla, affectionately nicknamed the General (her official title was house president), became central to the march of the Fendi brand, particularly regarding its North American operations, and to cementing its position as a patron of Italian heritage and the arts.

She had no children, although the other sisters went on to have 11 among them and more than 30 grandchildren. It was a measure of the sisters’ importance to Italy that a special government dispensation was granted to allow their descendants to adopt their maternal surname.

However, to best ensure the future of the company — and to preserve familial relations — the sisters decided in 2001 to sell a controlling stake to LVMH.


The designer Karl Lagerfeld in 1984 with the Fendi sisters, from left, Franca, Carla, Anna, Paola and Alda.

via Fendi

“Five sisters was too much,” Mr. Lagerfeld, who has often been referred to as the sixth Fendi child, said after the deal was announced. “And they were not speaking. The husbands were all happy when they sold.”

Despite the takeover, Carla Fendi remained honorary president until her death.

Deeply committed to Rome and its culture, she helped finance the restoration of the Trevi Fountain through her Carla Fendi Foundation and alongside company initiatives spearheaded by the company’s chief executive, Pietro Beccari. An avid collector of 20th-century European art and design, Ms. Fendi was also a chief patron of the Two Worlds arts festival in the Umbrian city of Spoleto.

Her husband of 55 years, Candido Speroni, died in 2013. She is survived by her sisters.

“Aunt Carla was one of the most visionary people I have ever met,” Silvia Fendi, Ms. Fendi’s niece and the creative director at Fendi for accessories, men’s and children’s wear, said in a phone interview. “She was very ambitious and driven, totally determined to make her small family company an international one in a way that was very rare for women in the ’60s.”

Silvia Fendi is the daughter of Carla’s sister Anna and the only family member still actively involved in the running of the house. Her latest men’s collection was shown in Milan on Monday, hours before her aunt died.

Tributes from the Italian fashion world flooded social media on Tuesday as news of Ms. Fendi’s death spread. On Instagram, Simone Marchetti, the fashion editor of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, wrote, “How important it is to leave a trace not just on fashion and on business, but most of all on art, beauty and theater.”

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