Ilaria Venturini Fendi, sporting a necklace that jangles with a row of her old house keys, is camped out in a dim corner of the L’Eclaireur restaurant in Paris.
Resembling a jolly market vendor, 40-year-old Fendi — the younger sister of Sylvia, who heads up leather goods for the namesake Roman fashion house — sits surrounded by the latest offerings from her high-end eco-conscious bag line, Carmina Campus. Now into its fourth season, the collection will be presented for the first time during Milan Fashion Week.
Like a magpie’s nest, the collection’s vibrant bags, produced by artisans around Italy, are constructed using a patchwork of salvaged materials that Fendi picks up trawling markets and bargain basements around Florence and Rome. Kooky cushion covers collide with swatches of deck chair fabric on one model, while one tote started life as an oversize knitted African hat. Elsewhere, pushing the boundaries of utilitarian chic, Fendi transformed silver mesh pot-scrubbing pads into a twinkling evening purse.
Leveraging her industry contacts (the designer used to oversee shoes and the Fendissimo line for Fendi), many scraps are also donated by various mills, she said.
The line, ranging in price from $300 to around $2,000 at retail, is distributed in an exclusive crop of stores, including L’Eclaireur, 10 Corso Como and Dover Street Market.