Fendi finally taps a replacement for Karl Lagerfeld one year after the legendary artistic director's death

  • Kim Jones, head of menswear at Dior, has been tapped to lead womenswear at Fendi. His official title will be artistic director of haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women. 
  • The position was previously held by Karl Lagerfeld, who died last year after battling pancreatic cancer. Lagerfeld was at the brand from 1965 until his death. 
  • Jones is set to present his first collection for Dior in February 2021. 
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Kim Jones is to join Fendi and design its women's ready-to-wear, while remaining at the creative helm of Dior Men.

Fendi said Jones would work in tandem with Silvia Venturini Fendi, who has soldiered on as the main creative force and media figurehead following the death in February 2019 of Karl Lagerfeld, the German designer who had created furs and women's rtw for the Roman house since 1965.

His title will be artistic director of haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women. Venturini Fendi will continue to head the accessories and men's collections at Fendi.

This will mark Jones's first real foray into women's wear, and puts the British designer in a rare league straddling two marquee luxury brands.

It also resolves the delicate issue of succession at Fendi, which never officially said that Venturini Fendi was replacing Lagerfeld, unlike Chanel, which immediately upon the German designer's passing identified his longtime studio director Virginie Viard as its new artistic director.

The appointment of Jones should bring considerable heat to Fendi, given his formidable design chops, flair for unexpected collaborations, and his wide circle of famous friends, including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Donatella Versace and David Beckham.

A veteran of French luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Jones came on board in 2011 as men's artistic director at Louis Vuitton, parlaying his zest for exotic travel into ultraluxurious collections with understated cool and sly functionality. He helped ignite the luxury streetwear phenomenon with the landmark 2017 collaboration with Supreme, the cult New York skatewear brand.

Since moving over to Dior Men in 2018, Jones has done collections with fine artists Daniel Arsham, Kaws and Amoako Boafo, the surfwear maven Shawn Stussy, and Air Jordan. The latter yielded one of the most sought-after sneakers of 2020, the Air Jordan 1 OG Dior limited-edition.

Jones is to show his first collection for Fendi in February 2021, the Italian brand said in a brief press release.

"Kim Jones is a great talent and since joining, he has continuously proven his ability to adapt to the codes and heritage of the LVMH houses while revisiting them with great modernity and audacity," said Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer at LVMH. "At Fendi, I am convinced that his vision and passion will highly contribute to the success of the women's collections."

Serge Brunschwig, chairman and ceo of Fendi added: "Kim is one of the most talented and relevant designers of today. With Silvia Venturini Fendi, who has virtuously carried on Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld legacy, Kim will bring his contemporary one of a kind point of view into the world of Fendi."

Venturini Fendi, whose title is artistic director of Fendi accessories and menswear, welcomed Jones, "to whom I am bound by deep respect and friendship. I am looking forward to take the Fendi universe to the next level with him."

It is understood Jones has harbored ambitions to design women's wear for some time, and held discussions with Versace in Milan in recent years.

He is the latest acclaimed men's wear specialist to broaden his fashion universe to women's wear, following on the heels of Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons.

Since joining Dior, Jones has embraced his growing status as a public figure, appearing in a campaign for Rimowa — a prelude to the exclusive collaboration with the luggage maker.

"I think the perception of me has changed quite a lot in the last year and a half, but I'm still the same person," he told WWD in an interview last year. "I'm more publicly visible, people come up to me in the street a lot more. I appreciate that. I'm always shocked when people that I really admire know who I am."

Jones has had a storied fashion career, with John Galliano snapping up his graduate collection from Central Saint Martins.

He initially launched a signature men's wear label. Known for its sporty, streetwear edge, the Kim Jones brand lasted for eight seasons and attracted the attention of Dunhill, where he was creative director from 2008 to 2011.

Jones is seen as one of a small clutch of marquee designers who can straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — and now two countries and two distinct houses.

"Working across two such prestigious houses is a true honor as a designer and to be able to join the house of Fendi as well as continuing my work at Dior Men's is a huge privilege," Jones said.

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