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ROME — A childhood memory of riding in the back seat of her father’s brown and beige Maserati Mistral, with the starry sky glowing through the sunroof and the scent of tobacco and leather wafting through the air, helped inspire Silvia Venturini Fendi’s latest project — a car.
The Roman luxury brand last week feted the global launch of the Maserati GranCabrio Fendi, the crowning glory of the company’s “Whispered Project,” which pays homage to Italy’s handmade tradition and includes a two-volume guide, documentary and luggage line.
The aesthetic exterior elements of the Maserati were designed by Venturini Fendi, who is the creative director of accessories of the company her family started in 1925 and which is now controlled by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The 4.7-liter, V8 engine, automatic transmission vehicle was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
“I always loved Maserati,” said Venturini Fendi before the cocktail and dinner event began at Palazzo Fendi, which houses the brand’s headquarters and store.
Michael Burke, Fendi’s chief executive officer, said the entire project is a study into the heritage and craftsmanship of the luxury business, and not a segue into the car industry.
“You’re not going to see a car in our windows,” Burke said. “This is the customization of a luxury car that represents the excellence in the car business. We want to take people back to the roots of luxury.”
The project was crafted at the Maserati headquarters in Modena and furnished with handmade materials like Cuoio Romano, Fendi’s precious leather from its Selleria line. The body of the car, which was displayed in the store for the event, is colored in a gold and gray finish, which Fendi calls Fiamma Fendi.
A yellow wood trim runs across the width of the dashboard, on the doors and on the top of the gear lever, while the Fendi signature double “F” insignia is discreetly embedded on the leather seats and on the car’s tires. A price for the car has not been established. Prospective clients will be able to place orders for the limited edition vehicle around the end of 2011, the company said.
Fendi said the Maserati GranCabrio Fendi is an example of the art of “fatto a mano” (handmade), which is why the brand featured Maserati in the first volume of its Italian handmade guide called “The Whispered Directory of Craftsmanship,” released in November 2010.
The second volume of the book, which was written by writer, journalist, teacher and exhibition curator Cesare Maria Cunaccia and freelance journalist Vittoria Filippi Gabardi, was released last week in conjunction with the global launch of the GranCabrio.
Published by Electa Mondadori in both English and Italian, “The Whispered Directory of Craftsmanship” set includes a photo diary, a CD and two books and is priced at 90 euros, or $125.15 at current exchange.
The documentary film “The Whispered Grand Tour” takes viewers on a trip across the hidden and exclusive addresses that were mentioned in the two guidebooks. The film features Italian actress Fiammetta Cicogna driving the Fendi Maserati through Italy and premiered on Italian television channel Sky Uno in a series of four episodes starting Oct. 29.
When asked if other similar projects were in the pipeline, Venturini Fendi and Burke responded in the affirmative — to be revealed in due time. “We hope to do more. Who knows? Maybe next time we’ll do something with chocolate,” Venturini Fendi said.