This landmark — launched in 1935 by Benito Mussolini and regarded now as a standout example of Fascist architecture — is, as of 2015, the global headquarters of Fendi. The LVMH-owned house helped to restore the building, and the place has subsequently transformed into a fashion icon in and of itself. The palazzo, for instance, was featured heavily in 2016's Zoolander 2. It is the subject of much curiosity and Instagram opportunities, and from October 12 to 14 of this year, it will be open to the public (on a ticketed basis) in a global programme that LVMH calls Les Journées Particulières. The purpose? According to LVMH's Antoine Arnault, who came up with the idea, the activation is "designed to embody our houses' hospitality and energy."
What that means: Throughout the three aforementioned days, LVMH will unlock the doors to 76 of its maisons around the world — 39 of which have never been shown to onlookers before. (This will be the fourth, and largest, edition of Les Journées.) At each, LVMH plans on hosting workshops, holding fetes, introducing speakers, and creating podcasts to elucidate upon what makes each maison so special: the highest level of craft and the deepest level of care each brings to the table. Those who are interested are able to sign up online as to which property they'd like to visit, and the gamut runs far and beyond just the fashion-verse — wines and spirits, beauty, watches, and luggage are all part of the event.
In the US, LVMH-owned West Coast winemakers will be on display for the first time, including Chandon California, Newton Vineyard, and Colgin Cellars. In Germany, the red-hot luggage label Rimowa; in Switzerland, the watch specialists Hublot. In France? The legendary fashion fixtures Givenchy(also for the first time) and Louis Vuitton. And in Italy? Emilio Pucci, Bulgari, Fendi, and many more.
Which brings us back to the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana on a late-summer day, where LVMH is hosting a preview of what Les Journées Particulières might entail. Here, an exhibition will be set up on the first floor — things that might once have been considered ephemera, like runway props, will be shown. The activation will also include elements from Fendi's homewares line, Fendi Casa, and a showcase of the label's ultra-high-end haute fourrurecapabilities. (The exemplary workmanship in one of Fendi's haute fourrurepieces is evident even in looking through a screen — fashion fans will likely not soon forget the house's autumn/winter 2016 couture show in front of the Trevi Fountain, which Fendi also helped to restore the year before.) Up close, the Fendi-sphere becomes that much more tangible — it is a spellbinding ecosystem that now reaches from streetwear and stratospheric luxury to sofas and sneakers.
In Florence, Emilio Pucci's Palazzo Pucci will also be accessible. The palazzo — a 13th-century building — was recently renamed the Emilio Pucci Heritage Hub. Here, archival designs, home goods, and special collaborations will be presented. In true Pucci fashion, the space is kitted out in all the buoyant chroma one might expect of the brand; colours like Emilio Pink and Capri Blue fill the myriad rooms.
And, back in Rome, Bulgari will put on a host of activities at its flagship on Via dei Condotti. At LVMH's preview, editors were shown Bulgari's offices and laboratory, where a majority of its fine jewellery is produced — by hand. (An interpretation of the lab will be created at the store.) When leaving the lab, everyone must cross a special inlay in the floor that brushes the soles of your shoes, should any gold flakes or stray gems be caught in the treads. Here, master artisans hand-set diamonds into the eyes of serpents; at Bulgari's offices, one necklace in the shape of a viper glimmers with rubies and sapphires. It is around a quarter million euros at retail and destined for a jewellery show in Moscow. Everyone is confident it will sell. Bulgari's creative director, Lucia Silvestri, will be on hand at the store, as well as at Les Journées Particulières. Today, though, she is talking to a batch of emeralds that has arrived from Colombia.
"This is buono," says Silvestri, catching the sunlight through an especially lush stone. She smiles and holds up another. She shakes her head. "This is not buono," she says, wrapping it up and putting it in the send-back tray with a slight scowl. "We talk with the stones," she says. "We are not normal, right?" Exceptional is more like it.