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    

Fendi Authentic Qutweet Bag Bug Fur Monster Keychain Charm Fob Soldout WorldwideFendi Authentic Monster Eye Leather Wallet Purse Bag Bug Charm Soldout WorldwideFendi Rare Authentic Qutweet Collection Pink Monster Bag Bug Charm Wallet PurseAuthentic Fendi Honey Brown Leather Spy Handbag Tote Large Italy Excellent CondFendi Zucchino Large Hobo Black Pink Tote Shopper Hangbag 78144Monsters Backpack FendiFendi Mini Be BaguetteVintage 90s Fendi Stripe Leather Panel Drawstring Satchel100% Auth Fendi Shopping Zucca Roll Bag,tote BagAuthentic Fendi Zucca Pattern Shoulder Tote Bag Brown Nylon Italy Vintage M09181Fendi Zucca Chef Shopper Tote Gold Hobo Purse Handbag Shopper Brown 78428Auth Fendi Pvc Canvas Leather Brown Travel Bag Boston Bag 5e190080#Fendi Crossword Grande Mirrored Bag, Leather, SilverFendi Evening BagVintage Authentic Fendi For Neiman Marcus Black Leather Small Crossbody HandbagAuth Fendi Zucca Bifold Wallet Purse Canvas Leather Brown Vintage 5d291100#Authentic Fendi Spy Bag In CognacFendi Zucca Canvas Foldable Hand Tote Bag Made In Italy Great Condition!!Authentic Fendi Zucca Tote Bag Shoulder Bag Canvas Brown 5e255260*Auth Fendi Zucca Pattern Tote Bag Brown Nylon Canvas Italy Vintage 5e190531#Fendi Shoulder Bag Zucca Brown Canvas 5e204170#Authentic Vintage Fendi Shoulder Bag Brown Leather 5e190532#Auth Fendi Zucca Pattern Logos Shoulder Bag Brown Canvas 5d131380#Fendi Made In Italy Small Fabric Multi-color Fabric Handbag Purse Weave PatternAuth Fendi Zucca Pattern Tote Bag Brown Nylon Canvas Italy Vintage 5e250240#Authentic Fendi Zucca Mamma Forever Baguette Shoulder BagAuthentic Fendi Hand Bag Black Brown Zucca Pattern Nylon Leather 5e050430#Authentic Fendi Zucca Tote Bag Shoulder Bag Canvas Brown 5e256330*Fendi Spy BagAuth Fendi Black Signature Ff Logo Fabric Leather Trim Tote Handbag Italy MadeAuth Fendi Logos Mamma Baguette Shoulder Bag Nappa Leather Free Shipping 4321erAuthentic Fendi Wallet Clutch Purse Accessory Pequin Fw-20402-10-f 38835 04026 Authentic Fendi Hand Bag Brown Zucca Pattern Canvas Leather Italy (es983)100% Authentic Fendi Monogram Brown Canvas And Leather Hobo Bag Large Mint! Fendi Textured-leather Small Bucket Bag €990Fendi Briefcase Shoulder BagPre-owned Fendi Mama PurseFendi Zucchino Small Canvas Boston Bag, TobaccoBrown Monogram Fabric Fendi ToteFendi Mia Print Logo Canvas Bag LargeAuthentic Fendi Vintage Handbag Fendi Zucca Canvas Foldable Hand Tote Bag Made In Italy Excellent Condition!!Fendi Zucca Pattern Hand Bag Canvas Rubber Brown White Italy 2241-8br001-wcx-078Fendi Bag And Christian Dior Wallet Used Auth Fendi Brown Canvas Flower Beaded Detail Monogrammed Handbag Fendi Floral Handbag, Gorgeous Red/pink Flowers On Black Background Fendi Black Tote Bag100% Authentic Vtg 80s Fendi Leather Monogram Flap Frame Purse Bag SlingAuthentic Fendi Regiment Stripe Vintage Shoulder Bag / Cross Body ToteAuthentic Fendi Canvas Shoulder Pouch Bag Made In Italy 0309s3Auth Fendi Zucca Hand Bag Pouch Canvas Brown 5e258980*Authentic Fendi Vintage Large Envelope Black On Black Stripe Clutch Purse BagFendi 22" Black Duffel Bag..brass Zippers & TagsVintage Auth Fendi Zucca Coated Canvas Brown Boston Bag 5e259380#Fendi Black Canvas Monogram Small Handbag Bn 341Vintage Auth Fendi Zucca Coated Canvas Brown Hand Bag 5e259070#Authentic Fendi Gray Shoulder Bag 5e190440#Fendi Pequin Envelope ClutchBeautiful Vintage Fendi Overnight BagFendi Wool Brown Shoulder Bag (small)