Photos by Matthew Kelly The Round Eye Hammered Bracelet The Swarovski Eyelash Single Earring The Triangle Eye Swarovski Eyelash Ring

Delfina Delettrez Talks Fur, Feathers, and Fendi

BY Dana Melanz | Thu. March 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM | A La Mode
As the daughter of Silvia Venturini Fendi, Delfina Delettrez is undoubtedly part of fashion royalty. But she's better known as an accomplished jewelry designer in her own right—she launched her eponymous line in 2007 and has since created season after season of stunning, sought-after accessories. Her unique take on structure and jewel setting has made her an OC favorite and a household name in the fashion world. Now, seven years later, Delfina joined her mother and Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi to create a line of bracelets, earpieces, and rings that combine the signature Fendi fur and Delfina's otherworldly accents. I recently spoke with the designer to talk about this step into the family business.

You can place a phone order for the Delfina Delettrez for Fendi collection by calling (646) 237-6078, Mon–Fri 10am–6pm EST!

Dana Melanz: Hi Delfina, congratulations on the new collection! Even though you are a Fendi, this is actually the first time you’re working with the design house. How did that come about?
Delfina Delettrez: Well, it was a natural process. [Fendi] wanted to focus more on the jewelry, so I guess it was kind of a normal step to ask me. I was observed by the designers, and they waited for four or five years because they really wanted to see what was my process was. Then I was called on as a product designer. I was happy to be treated and considered as a designer and not as just a fourth generation who started working for the brand.

Was it the Fendi jewelry team that you worked with or was it your own team?
Well, both. It was my team who was actually helping me. I always work with noble materials, precious stones, so I needed to have a sort of a direction on where to go, so Fendi worked with my team. I wanted to follow the manufacturing process and all the technical aspects, so it was like two jewelry teams, two universes that melted perfectly. We worked with the fur atelier, because we needed to find a way to have powerful splashes of fur. They knew how to cut the fur, but putting it in the metal was new for the atelier, so we all worked it out together.

This was the first time that you worked with fur right?
Yes, fur and magnets.

What were some things you learned from working with magnets and fur?
It was so new. You need to understand how to make the magnets work; it needs to be functional but aesthetically you don’t need to see them. This was the technical aspect, and then the jewelry had to have a beautiful shape, even when the fur is not on the piece.

How did you, Karl [Lagerfeld], and your mother come to this decision to mix fur, metal, and precious stones?
From the beginning we said it would be based on the bag bugs. They're Fendi, they're fur, but it was ironic. The Fendi logo is the double F which means fun fur, and ever since I was a child we were surrounded by fur no matter the season. I thought that by adding fur jewelry to a Spring/Summer collection it would be surreal. I think that both fur and stones have a powerful presence. I had a kind of abnormal attraction to the detail of the eye [on the bag bugs] and they wanted to make them more extravagant, more feminine. I started to add eye "makeup," long eyelashes made of metal lashes or fur. But then I was feeling that these eyes were kind of mutating into monsters themselves. They were not looking like eyes anymore, but like kind of a tropical bird. That’s why I started to add feathers as well, as sort of a beautiful tail. It was a mix of everything, but it was sort of like a Miyazaki fairy tale, something that is a mix of animation and a fantastic nature.

Are you a fan of Miyazaki? What’s your favorite movie?
Yes, my daughter and I are both fans. My favorite? Howl's Moving Castle.

Now that you've mentioned it, the feathers and the eye remind me of the dragon in Spirited Away.
Oh yeah! It’s true.

The eye motif that appeared in the Fendi collaboration put a Delfina signature on it. What significance does the eye hold for you?
I started working with eyes in my very first collection. I started with being obsessed with the anatomy, but then these eyes moved more into a poetic story, which was the lover's eye. And then they started to be more cartoon, and then they went a bit robotic. So it was a constant code evolving each time. For Fendi, I thought it was a challenge to work with the eyes, because it was difficult to use one of my signature codes, but in a totally different way. It wasn’t really something that was helping me. I wanted even to create a perfect balance in one object, using the Fendi fur, and my more cyborg feeling to contrast something very primitive with something from a different dimension. 

What was your favorite thing about working with the Fendi team?
We laughed a lot, because Karl has a super sense of humor. My mom and I are telepathic so we can figure things out by just looking at each other. Then Karl was making me exaggerate details. I am used to working with smaller details but he would say "No! This feather needs to be longer! I want more fur!" He gave me great inspiration, things would come from dialogue, and that is what I love.

Do you feel that you’ve learned anything from the collaboration that you’re going to implement in future collections for your own line?
Maybe to never say never at first sight. At the beginning, there were like two opposite concepts and I was like, “Oh my god, it will never work, it will never work!” I was scared. But then we tried on a few pieces and it was perfect. The opposites can mix perfectly, but this I already knew…