“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Leonardo da Vinci said these words after a lifetime of creating beautiful art and revolu-tionizing the fields of both engineering and design. His talent and spirit ushered in an era of extraordinary creativity that today we call the Renaissance.
We think of the Renaissance today through the imagery created by da Vinci, his contem-poraries, and his successors. We remember the majesty and beauty while forgetting the era of hardship that preceded it. In fact, the Renaissance might never have happened had the plague not devastated Europe, because it was during those dark ages that the hearts of men and women cried out for salvation.
In a storm at sea, God may send boats to the rescue. But when the storm envelops a culture and a society finds itself lost in the waves, God sends artists.
When those of medieval Europe suffered through the black plague, environmental disas-ters, and the failings of corruption, they turned to the forgotten history of their people, their ancient predecessors, and they found their salvation in beauty.
While the challenges we face today are dif-ferent from those of 15th-century Italy, our efforts to persevere through our own difficult era require the same fuel.
We need beauty.
One of Italy’s most famous design houses keeps the spirit of the Renaissance alive today.
“The love for beauty and its transmission are at the heart of Fendi’s DNA,” says Silvia Venturini Fendi, who took over as creative director at her family’s maison after the passing of Karl Lagerfeld.
Under the leadership of Silvia Fendi, The luxury maison put together an ambitious project during the summer of 2020, called FENDI Renaissance–Anima Mundi. The project featured three live events streamed globally from Rome, Shanghai, and Tokyo.
Classical musicians from three of the great-est academies of music and arts in the world played triumphant pieces by Italy’s greatest composers—and of course they were all dressed immaculately in custom gowns and suits by none other than Fendi.
“Anima Mundi means ‘Soul of the Universe,’” Fendi says, “and to unify everyone back to-gether in the challenging context for the world and the industry. The idea of the project comes from the desire to share with the community, after the pandemic, a positive message of rebirth through art, fashion and music.”
The finale for Anima Mundi featured a live performance in Shibuya Sky in Tokyo with Rio Arai, a violinist, and Kohei Ueno, a saxo-phonist, playing the Finale of Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
“I love to see how each performance connects the local culture with music, which is universal. The rooftop garden in Tokyo, for instance, is a symbolic representation of a natural environ-ment in the heart of a metropolis, emphasized by Rossini’s music, which leads the listener to climactic emotional heights and excitement,” Fendi says.
Indeed, the rousing performance had a vic-torious energy and was the perfect conclusion to the project.
“With the looks worn by the artists during the performance, fashion and music become one. They become the ultimate and univer-sal language that can travel through time and space and through different cultures and countries,” Fendi says.
A global need
Never before has the world faced a tribulation so universally as COVID-19 and the shutdown that resulted. Seven billion people suddenly had the rug pulled out from under them.
After being locked in our homes and facing an uncertain future, we have a decision on where we look for our salvation in these dark days.
Let it be to the wisdom of our ancestors. Let it be to those who painted and carved and built their way out of suffering through a dedication to beauty and a belief in Heaven. Let it be to the spirit of the Renaissance and the universal Truths that permeate every culture on Earth and unite mankind in common humility.
A final quote from the great da Vinci high-lights the importance of projects like Fendi’s Anima Mundi as well as our own individual pursuits in this globally connected age:
“Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.”