'We are just planning to make a book and a big exhibition about the fountains in Rome,’ Karl Lagerfeld told me in December. 'You are the first to hear that. They signed yesterday. You see. You get the news before everybody!’
Sure enough, only a month later, Fendi announced they would be paying for the restoration of the Trevi Fountain – perhaps the most famous of its kind in the world and immortalized by Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita – and many of Rome’s other fountains also.
In the meantime, M Lagerfeld, well known for his fashion editorials and campaigns, is also a rather brilliant photographer of architecture. He, therefore, took pictures of the antiquities in question – they predominantly date back to the 16th century – as a tribute to the historic monuments and the city that is home to them.
Today, on Paris’s Right Bank, The Glory of Water, an exhibition of no less than 100 of these precious images – 50 daguerrotypes and 50 platinotypes all produced by master printers - opened to the public.
'Rome has a very unique atmosphere. In my life, I have already been to Rome over 740 times, I feel part of it...' Lagerfeld states in the foreword to the catalogue that accompanies the show – he’s nothing if not precise. It will be published by Steidl and is therefore set to be a thing of great beauty.
Of course, at least part of the reason for the frequency of his visits is the fact that Lagerfeld has been collaborating with Fendi since 1965. Today he is responsible for the house's ready-to-wear collections.
A family business whose Roman heritage stretches back to its founding in that city in 1925, Fendi is today represented by Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative director of accessroies, although LVMH became the company’s majority shareholder in 2001. ‘It’s our duty to pay tribute to the city of Rome which has given so much to us,’ Silvia Fendi says. 'It is part of Fendi’s creative heritage.'
The Glory of Water, Pont Alexandre III, Rive Droite, Paris, 75008, until July 14, then touring. The accompanying catalogue will be published in September, priced £75, and available at Fendi stores worldwide.