“B

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Style -

eauty not per­ceived is a plea­sure not felt,” wrote the Span­ish-Amer­i­can poet and philoso­pher Ge­orge San­tayana, cho­sen by Karl Lager­feld to in­tro­duce The Glory of Wa­ter, his lat­est photography book and ex­hi­bi­tion sup­ported by Fendi. “You know San­tayana? I’m very happy that a young per­son, and from Asia, knows who he is. Not many peo­ple in Europe even do,” says Lager­feld in sur­prise, af­ter I cite the fas­ci­nat­ing pro­logue to his 120-page cloth-bound book pub­lished by Steidl, which turns his lens on the iconic foun­tains of Rome. “San­tayana’s The Sense of Beauty is one of my favourite books … ”

We are seated, just him and I, on deck chairs along the em­bank­ment of the Seine by the gilded Pont Alexan­dre III, the Eif­fel Tower on the other side of the river be­yond us, a fresh sum­mer’s breeze en­hanc­ing the mo­ment. Be­hind us, the ex­hi­bi­tion space of five black vinyl ge­o­met­ri­cal domes, which mir­ror the ma­jor cupo­las of Rome, casts a sur­real pres­ence against post­card Paris. In­side the ex­hi­bi­tion, Lager­feld’s deeply en­gag­ing photographs of Rome’s foun­tains in tra­di­tional da­guerreo­types and platino­types await their launch that very evening. The mu­sic of Vi­valdi, the chim­ing sounds of foun­tain wa­ter, and smoke ma­chines add to the su­per­nat­u­ral am­bi­ence.

“You do what you feel, you do your work, and only later when you think it over, you think where comes the idea point, and how you ap­proached the idea,” states Lager­feld. “I didn’t start with a quote from Ni­et­zsche or San­tayana but only in ret­ro­spect did I feel it cap­tured the very idea of this project.”

The de­signer’s pho­to­graphic project marks a USD2.8 mil­lion restora­tion ef­fort un­der­taken by Fendi to pre­serve Rome’s unique her­itage, par­tic­u­larly the Trevi Foun­tain, the ‘Quat­tro Fon­tane’, and other iconic Ro­man foun­tains.

Rome, the birth­place for Fendi in 1925, has al­ways been the city of its in­spi­ra­tion, and ‘Fendi for Foun­tains’ con­ceived by Pi­etro Bec­cari, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Fendi, is vi­tal to “pro­mote a pos­i­tive mes­sage of re­con­struc­tion, re­newal, and restora­tion far be­yond its bor­ders, as a strong sign of change.”

“It’s a way of giv­ing back to the city that has given Fendi so much,” says Bec­cari, who im­me­di­ately called the Mayor of Rome

A close-up of Fon­tana dei Tri­toni

Fon­tana dei Leoni Capitolini

Karl Lager­feld at the ex­hi­bi­tion

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