Back in July 2013, Italian fashion powerhouse Fendi announced that it would be relocating its Rome headquarters to one of the city’s most significant architectural icons: The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (Palace of the Italian Civilisation). Located in the Esposizione Universale Roma district south of the city centre, the colossal travertine-lined structure was designed by architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno La Padula and Mario Romano in 1937 and launched in 1940. Spanning six floors, the monument was intended as the centrepiece of the International Exhibition of 1942 — which unfortunately never took place due to World War II — and had stood empty since. Until now.
Approximately two years after announcing its contracted rental of the building (nicknamed the Square Colosseum) for 15 years at an annual price tag of €2.6 million, Fendi’s dream to breathe new life into this historic space is close to fruition. Following extensive restoration works that cost a “reasonable amount”, the fashion house’s chairman and CEO Pietro Beccari says the brand plans to officially unveil the building this October, to coincide with its 90th anniversary celebrations. “We had been looking for the perfect building to bring the Fendi family under one roof.
“The square footage available in town was a crucial point and when we heard that Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana could be available, I thought it would be the perfect place, especially since it embodies all the values we share here at Fendi,” shares Beccari. He elaborates that the building celebrates Italian savoir faire and excellence, which is in line with Fendi’s brand values.
More than just a new office building to unite its 450-strong staff who have been split between two offices in the city and separated by a 30-minute drive, the Palazzo also serves as a source of inspiration for Fendi employees, including its long-standing creative director Karl Lagerfeld.
“Fashion and architecture were two of the favoured forms of expressing avant-garde culture in the early decades of the 20th century, [and] the famous Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is a perfect example [of that],” explains Lagerfeld.
As such, he drew inspiration for the Maison‘s Spring/Summer 2015 ready-to-wear collection from the Roman landmark. The result was a clean and structured, almost architectural aesthetic on the runway. Dresses and skirts featured sharp, angular edges while tops and dresses were presented with precise block panels. “[The] Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana inspired the setting of the show, inspired us and it will be a source of inspiration for the next 15 years,” Lagerfeld adds.
The fashion label will also open the first floor of its new premises to the public. It will serve as an exhibition space that will host everything from art, history to design installations. Exact details on what other amenities will be available to visitors are unclear at this point, but Beccari promises that all will be revealed during the grounds’ October inauguration. Above all, he hopes that the area will become a unique place that celebrates Italian creativity and savoir faire for everyone. “We are happy to give the [Palazzo Della Civilta Italiana] back to the community, highlighting the Italian cultural patrimony and making it accessible [to all],” says Beccari.