The fashion industry isn't known for altruism. There's usually a catch to its charity: a watch launch or a handbag to be flogged. Yet Fendi's restoration of the fountains of Rome – most famously the Trevi, Anita Ekberg's venue for frolicking in La Dolce Vita, but also the complex of the Quattro Fontane – seems to have no ulterior motive. Thank god, a "Trevi" perfume isn't on the cards.
So why are they doing it? Fendi calls Rome home – making the brand the odd one out in the Italian fashion pack. Milan is the hub of the Italian ready-to-wear industry, but Rome is the heart of Italian culture: the High Renaissance and the Alta Moda. Exactly what Fendi wants to be aligned with.
If we also factor in that Fendi's creative director Karl Lagerfeld has been dubbed fashion's Roi Soleil, this aquatic obsession is appropriate. Louis XIV devised the extravagant dancing fountains at Versailles. Now Kaiser Karl has placed his own stamp on the fountains of Rome, photographing them for an exhibition and a hefty coffee-table tome,The Glory of Water, to mark Fendi's multi-million Euro investment in Rome's heritage.
"It is a great idea, a great project," says Lagerfeld, "because this famous fountain is a symbol of Rome, like the Colosseum and St Peter's." In his pragmatic, Teutonic style, he adds: "I think the fashion world is very lucky luxury brands like Fendi and others can pay for this kind of restoration."