Silvia Venturini Fendi set out to design a bag that would stand the test of time. Fifteen years later, her playful Peekaboo proves she scored.
The Fendi Peekaboo Bag might have been named after a children’s game, but the design is anything but infantile. Smart, sophisticated and expertly crafted, the Peekaboo was an instant hit when it debuted on the Fendi runway in 2008. Fifteen years later, the bag has dangled from the arms of Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, Hailey Bieber, Amal Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and the late architect Zaha Hadid, to name just a few.
Silvia Venturini Fendi explains that her idea for the Peekaboo came at a time when fashion houses were flooding their runways with purses, hoping to have the one that would be declared the It bag of the season. “I said, ‘Let’s do a classic bag, back to our roots but in a very Fendi way,’” recalls the brand’s artistic director of accessories and menswear. She landed on the idea of a mid-century frame style in soft glove leather with an exterior pocket that drapes when opened by a turn lock. This cheeky “smile” is the bag’s signature and inspired the name Peekaboo (after a game Venturini Fendi has played with her own children and grandchildren). “When it’s closed, it looks like a classic bag, but then the inside is always a bit of a surprise,” she remarks.
But Venturini Fendi’s intention was more than just fun and games. “I really wanted to create a bag that only a real leather-goods maker like Fendi could make,” she says. “It is a bag to be experienced: When you put your hands inside a Peekaboo, you can feel some of the softest leather in the world.” Styles are handcrafted at the company’s ateliers outside Florence, in the hills of Tuscany, but the headquarters, where Venturini Fendi designs, are in Rome.
Venturini Fendi was only five years old when Karl Lagerfeld was appointed artistic director of the house founded by her grandparents in 1925. In 1992, Lagerfeld suggested that Venturini Fendi be put in charge of accessories, and five years later, she created the Baguette, also a bestseller — and an icon of pop culture thanks to the Sex and the City episode where Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie is robbed of her prized accessory at gunpoint.
Like the Baguette, the Peekaboo comes in a mind-boggling array of materials, colours and trims — as seen in the new limited-edition book Peekaboo-K. Venturini Fendi’s personal go-to, however, is basic black. “It’s simple, complex and timeless,” she says. Enduring, too, is the satisfaction Venturini Fendi takes from her achievement. “It was an idea that came really fast, but it was a valuable idea because it’s a bag that I still adore today,” she adds. “I am never fed up with it. It’s good to see that a good idea is forever.”
Photography by LAWRENCE CORTEZ. Styling by ASHLEY GALANG. Creative direction by GEORGE ANTONOPOULOS. Hair by RYAN MCGOVERN for P1M.ca. Makeup by VERONICA CHU. Photo assistants: JACOB GAY and JUDY GU. Fashion assistant: KENNEDY ADAMS. Models: FINN CREEGGAN for NIWA MODELS and WILLY for NIWA MODELS.
This article first appeared in FASHION’s Winter 2024 issue. Find out more here.