Like many other designer handbag companies, Fendi started as a leather goods store that offered horse saddles and carriage fittings. Opened in Rome in 1925 by married couple and artisans Edoardo and Adele Fendi, the company gained great acclaim among the Italian elite and became a destination store for wealthy tourists visiting Rome.

It wasn’t long before the leather and fur shop added hand-stitched handbags to its offerings, opening new stores around Europe. Because of shortages during World War II, the Fendis took to making handbags out of hard materials like wood.

Adele’s five daughters—Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda—slept in the handbag drawer as infants, so it’s not surprising that they joined the company once they became adults. Unlike their traditional parents, these young women were not adverse to taking risks with the company. In 1965, they started working with a flamboyant rising young designer named Karl Lagerfeld. Soon, he created the famous double-F Fendi logo.

At Fendi, Lagerfeld took a whole new approach to fur. He altered its texture and shape so it was easier to wear, and he would tint mink and other luxury furs unnatural colors like violet and pink. In 1969, Lagerfeld introduced Fendi’s first ready-to-wear fur collection. He was just as experimental with leather, trying out different ways to print, weave, dye, and tan it, and making handbags softer and less-structured.

In 1977, Fendi launched its Lagerfeld-designed ready-to-wear clothing collection, which furthered its reputation as a firm of sophisticated and well-made fashion. The '70s was also the decade the earth-toned logo bag became the thing to have, so Fendi produced a whole line of muted chocolate-and-carmel striped bags with the double-F logo on the front.

During the early '90s, Silvia Venturini Fendi joined the company as the design coordinator. She found the company's line of post-’80s bags to be “plastic, normal, plain, ugly.” Her first order was to revive the hand-stitched handbag tradition of Adele Fendi with the Selleria line, which featured naturally treated cowhide and was characterized by a slightly bumpy surface and big, obvious saddle stitches. These bags soon developed a cultish following.

But it was her 1997 creation, the Baguette Bag, that ushered in a new era of It Bags for Fendi. This purse, which was diminutive in size and designed to be carried under the arm ...

You could purchase a Baguette in silk velvet, fur, snakeskin, crocodile, raffia, or printed faux pony. Or it might be beaded, adorned with Swarovski crystals, or paillette sequins. Some employed Northern Native American or Aztec patterns, Scottish tartans, or denim. The logo could be shiny metal, beaded, or encrusted with crystals. Some Baguettes were even embellished with feathers or mirrors.

This It Bag was seen on the arms of Madonna and Naomi Campbell; Meryl Streep tossed one around in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.” The Baguette was practically an uncredited cast member of “Sex and The City” season 3, appearing in gold, purple sequin, white diamond, and brown snake.

Sophia Loren says collecting Baguettes was like an addiction for her. Fendi, which introduced a new Baguette style every six months to keep them hot, made an even smaller riff on the Baguette called the Croissant, which is about the size of a grapefruit wedge and really only good for carrying a cell phone or wallet. It’s actually meant to be held inside a bigger bag.

In 2005, though, the Baguette was finally upstaged by the Fendi Spy, a soft leather bag with a curved sack-like shape that isn’t quite a hobo bag or a satchel. Favored by Kate Moss, this slouchy bag has hidden compartments and double-braided leather handles. Almost immediately after its release, the Spy, which sold for upwards of $2,000, had a wait list.

Just a year later, the much-coveted B Bag came along, Characterized by two large belt buckles on the front, the B is made in everything from calfskin and snake to straw and patent leather.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University is the place to learn about handbag makers from Adrian's, which made Bakelite bags, to Whiting … [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Authentic Fendi Petite 2jours Leather Shopper Handbag Bag W/box/dust BagFendi Monster Selleria Peekaboo Mens Handbag 100% AuthenticFendi "borsa Magic Piccola Zucca" Bag Small Satchel Handbag In TobaccoFendi Monsters Backpack Charm PinkFendi Spy Taupe And Brown Nappa Pebble Leather Woven Straps Hobo HandbagFendi Black Monogram Canvas & Leather Oyster BagFendi Canvas Selleria Tote Studs Tan 133369Preowned Fendi Men’s Bag Bug Monster Eyes Rivet Detail Clutch Pouch BagFendi Bag Bugs Monster Eyes Black BackpackVintage Fendi PurseFendi Zucca Small Shoulder Bag Tobacco Ff 129307Fendi Leather Hobo Shoulder Bag 132015Fendi Black Nylon Leather Trim Monogram Clasp Shoulder Handbag Bn587Fendi Bag Bugs Monster Yellow Eyes Black Backpack Fendi Bag Bugs Charm , Backpack Limited Edition!Authentic Fendi Black Pequin Stripe Tote Bag Handbag Vintage Nylon Leather PurseFendi Double Micro Baguette Fendi Palazzo Bucket Bag Black 133470Auth Fendi Zucca Pattern Canvas Hand Cosmetic Bag Pouch Vintage 6f140460 Fendi Bag Charm Karlito Big, Backpack Limited Edtion![auth] Fendi Zucca Compact Foldable Tote Shopper Bag Brown/black Canvas - G1469Fendi Tote Handbag - Excellent ConditionPreowned Fendi Black/blue Monster Bag Bugs Eyes Credit Card Case Wallet SaffianoAuth 2item Set Fendi Hand Bag And Tote Bag With Shoulder Strap U2210zig4Fendi Dark Brown Canvas Monogram Print Small Shoulder Handbag Bn541100% Authentic Fendi Pequin Shoulder Bag Brown Pvc Leather Vintage Italy Rb3007mAuthentic Fendi Handbag Made In ItalyWorld Famous Fendi "zucca" Spy BagAuthentic Fendi Hand Bag Brown Zucca Pattern Canvas Leather Italy (ic2357)Vintage Authentic Fendi Italy Shoulder Bag Used As Is No ReserveFendi 2jours Petite Authentic Handbag Nebula Color Lt Blue With Dust BagFendi Nappa Patent B Hobo Black 133394Fendi Satchel HandbagBlack Leather Fendi Hobo Handbag Auth Fendi Butterfly Leather Bag Charm Pink X Brown 057188Fendi Monster Fur Backpack, Black MultiVintage Fendi Parfums Coated Canvas Beige Shopper Tote Handbag PurseFendi Monster Bag Bug Real Fox Fur Black With BoxAuthentic Fendi Brown Zucca Canvas Leather Small Tote Shopper Shoulder Bag -cuteBlack Fendi ClutchAuthentic Fendi Shoulder Bag Brown Zucca Pattern Canvas Leather Italy (ic2362)Authentic And Stylish Fendi With Contrast Stitching Hand/over The Wrist Bag.[auth] Fendi Logos Shoulder Bag Brown Corduroy/leather *sale* G1461Authentic Fendi Black Leather Spy Bag Auth-fendi-selleria-straw-leather-hand-bag-brown-Auth Fendi Zucca Baguette Handbag Shoulder Bag Brown Canvas/leather Purse Small100% Authentic Vintage Fendi Cognac Washed Leather Spy Bag Large (not Mini)Fendi Black Patent Leather Mesh Overlay Double Handle Top Zip ClutchFendi Round Shoulder Bag Crossbody Purse Brown Gold Hardware Gorgeous!*** Fendi *** Silver / Gray Metallic Leather Satchel Bag. Vintage Fendi Cross Body/shoulder BagFendi Shoulder Bag Black Microfiber Made In Italy Vintage Fendi Italy Zucca Nylon Silver Tone Black Leather Accent Flap Shoulder HandbagLtd Edition Fendi Little Baguette Pink-blue-mustard Gold Tone Hardware PurseFendi Tan/black Animal Print Gold-tone Hardware Shoulder Handbag VgWomens Fendi Handbag With Bag In Excellent Condition!! Fendi Authentic 'ff' Logo Cosmetic Make-up Bag Case Pre-ownedFendi Roma Vintage Brown Pebbled Leather Wallet Clutch Tri- Fold OrganizerVintage Fendi Crossbody Bag Monogram Coated Canvas Leather Logo Purse W/dust BagFendi Monster Bag Rare 100% Authentic With Tags Pouch Violet Purple Elite Modern