Like nearly every great collaboration cemented on this side of 2010, Fendi’s latest capsule with artist Joshua Vides began with an Instagram DM. And like every millennial who has developed a keen sense of skepticism growing up in the internet age, Vides wasn’t sure whether it was for real. “I mean, how many times does a kid from Rialto, California, get the chance to collaborate with one of Europe’s oldest fashion houses?” asks the 31-year-old Los Angeles-based artist.

But the message was no scam. After following Vides’ much-hyped partnerships with big brands like Nike, Google and Woolrich, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Fendi’s in-the-family creative director, was moved by his unmistakable style: graphic black-and-white line work that channels an edgier Roy Lichtenstein minus the poppy colour palette. After all, Vides’ go-to medium is, surprisingly, Sharpie. “I was drawn to Joshua for the emotion he can show just using a black marker,” explains Venturini Fendi.

Their initial contact birthed a Vides-designed pop-up café and bag-customizing bar for the brand at iconic London department store Harrods last summer. The decision to dream up a ready-to-wear capsule felt like a natural progression, says Venturini Fendi, to “complete that world.”

Called California Sky, the collection, which has just dropped, was inspired by, well, the much-mused-about SoCal sky, under which the Guatemalan-American artist first learned to express himself through graffiti and skateboarding. Connecting these gritty, sun-dappled visuals to the house’s historic Italian roots proved to be the biggest test for Vides. “I had always admired the Fendi brand, but it wasn’t part of my world,” he admits.

Fendi California Sky campaign


But, perhaps surprisingly, the Fendi team took a “relaxed” and “open” approach to merging their disparate DNAs. After she set Vides up in the house’s creative studio in Rome, Venturini Fendi’s only stipulation was that he incorporate the brand’s staple logos and patterns into his illustrations. “After that, she allowed me to draw for hours,” says Vides. “She’d come back in the room, see my progress, tell me what she liked and then let me continue.” The rest of the collaborative process – fittingly, in light of our current WFH situ – was completed over WhatsApp.

The free-spirited result seamlessly bridges the high-luxury and streetwear worlds – a feat few antithetical pairings have been able to achieve in past years. Fendi’s glam, clean-lined design ethos is transposed onto street- savvy separates – billowing nylon windbreakers, embossed bike shorts and FF-stamped visors – that are then treated to Vides’ hand-drawn graphic trompe-l’œils on the seams and edges. At Venturini Fendi’s request, Vides added colour to his work for the first time: Washes of azure and lilac on the brand’s Peekaboo bag are a nod to the epic sunsets of his golden home state. Born of an unexpected partnership, this capsule is a reminder that creative connection will always transcend borders and ideologies. “It’s moments like this when I’m able to remind myself that every loss, failure and wrong decision I’ve made in my career has led me here,” says Vides. “Anything is possible.”

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of ELLE Canada. Subscribe here. Buy a digital copy of this issue here or on Apple News+.


An Exclusive First Look at Fendi’s New California Sky Collection

Dua Lipa Is Our Summer 2020 Cover Star!

10 Indigenous Fashion and Beauty Brands You Need to Have on Your Radar