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As one of fashion's five most famous sisters, Anna Fendi is a creative tour de force. Defining herself as a craftswoman, over the past three decades she has been instrumental in Fendi's evolution, while also dabbling in everything from viniculture to interior design. After a chance encounter with yacht designer Christian Grande, she is on to her next creative adventure.

After almost forty years at the creative helm of one of Italy’s most prominent fashion houses, it would be more than fair to call Anna Fendi a fashion industry luminary. The elegant octogenarian’s creative direction, influence and imagination enabled Fendi to grow into a style empire. She initiated Fendi’s 50-plus-year partnership with industry icon Karl Lagerfeld, working alongside him for 30 years. Under her, new lines were born, including Fendi’s ready-to-wear collection. She revolutionised the leather and accessories sector, spearheading research into materials and manufacturing.

While she left Fendi’s creative direction in the hands of her daughter Sivia and Lagerfeld in 2001, she continued to expand her creative horizons, launching a selection of wines, exquisite tableware and interior design services. In 2012 she became the first Italian woman to receive the prestigious International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame Award in Washington. Her next challenge? Yacht design.

Fendi handbag

It was a moment of curiosity that brought Anna Fendi and Christian Grande, fashion and yachting, together. Inspired by his grand Art Nouveau surroundings at Villa Letitia, the Fendi family’s home, Grande was sketching in his notebook, something he is never without. Spying a fellow creative, Fendi interrupted his artistic reverie to find out what he was drawing. They began to chat and the rest, as they say, is history.

The result of this random meeting is an unprecedented collaboration: a new Special Edition 370GT, one of Invictus Yacht‘s most successful models, with exterior by Grande and interiors by Fendi. “From the beginning the desire to combine our knowledge and put ourselves at stake was born,” says Grande. “The encounter between Anna’s interior design style and mine on the exterior has created a unique, harmonious yacht.”

This may be Fendi’s first yacht project, but she is no stranger to boating. “I spent my summers with my family on Ponza island and we have a small beautiful boat where we spend memorable moments together,” she says. “Nowadays, the market presents very sophisticated, high-tech boats. The design is always nice, but sometimes I miss the spirit of the sea and the warmth I look for when I am on a boat. A boat is not a status symbol; it is your house on the sea. It is the place where you relax, you share, you enjoy life.”

Anna Fendi and Christian Grande

When it comes to design, Fendi is inspired by everything: a monument, a facade, a flower. “I try to surround myself with beauty because beauty can generate only beauty,” she says. “I was born in Rome, and I consider myself very lucky because this city represents everything. Creativity is for sure a natural gift, something that you have inside and you need to express and to share with others, but creativity without research and production is something that can damn yourself.”

Fendi’s style has always favoured clean lines, defined patterns and attention to detail. She enjoys mixing tradition with modernity, always adding an extravagant accent. Her concept for this interior is a tribute to the traditional romance of long ocean voyages with a contemporary twist. Inspired by old steamer trunks made from parchment and Bulgarian leather, Fendi uses space intelligently, packing everything in “as in a doll house”. The yacht will be both beautiful and functional, using a balanced colour palette and materials not usually found in the yachting world. “I tried to decorate this little sea-borne jewel in a special way and with a strong personality,” smiles Fendi. “I’ve always adored yachts of this size, they have an intrinsic sense of proportion, with an intimate and adventurous feel.”

For Grande, the “fusion of experiences” while working with Fendi has been enlightening. “[She] is a person with enormous stylistic experience who has dedicated her life to the fashion world and the most sophisticated languages of style,” he says. While collaborations between the worlds of fashion and yachts are not unusual, there are always lessons to acquire and new synergies to be made. “The yacht design world can learn from fashion that sometimes things can be round or squared,” says Fendi. “Outside yachts are very linear, dynamic, perfectly outlined. Inside you have to put the soul; the vibrating and pulsing heart. It’s like a fondant au chocolat, the outside is hard but the inside makes the difference and gives the outside a unique taste. Fashion can help to make the difference.”

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