Fendi to fund Trevi Fountain repairs in Rome

ROME - Italian fashion house Fendi on Monday said it will finance a renovation of Rome's famous Trevi Fountain, becoming the latest luxury group to fund repairs to priceless heritage in times of austerity.

"It's a great idea, a great project! It is a symbol of Rome, like the Colosseum or St Peter's (Basilica)," Fendi's German-born artistic director Karl Lagerfeld told a press conference in the city.

The 2.12 million euro (S$3.5 million) repairs on the nearly 300-year-old fountain will be finished by 2015, Rome's city hall and Fendi said in a note.

Lagerfeld, who has been with Fendi since 1965, told AFP: "My motto in life is: 'Whoever has the money pays'. It's as simple as that."

"Fashion has money because things are going amazingly, like never before, in other parts of the world. So Rome should benefit," he said.

The 79-year-old designer, who is also a celebrated photographer, said he would be publishing a book on the fountains of Rome that will feature some of his daguerreotypes - an antique type of photograph.

"The restoration of the Trevi Fountain demonstrates the importance of public-private collaboration," Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno told reporters.

Alemanno said the economic crisis in Italy created "a need for a new cultural philanthropy".

The "Fendi for Fountains" project will also include funding to restore Quattro Fontane, late Renaissance fountains gracing each corner of a busy intersection which are blackened with soot.

Fendi, which was founded as a leather goods business in Rome in the 1920s and is now part of French luxury giant LVMH, said it felt "a deep bond with the Eternal City".

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