Bottega Veneta is All I Want to Wear…And I Never Thought I Would Say That
Every fashion-month I spend endless time scrolling through collections, watching them live, reading reviews, and catching up on the latest streetstyle from New York, London, Milan and Paris. Some might call it procrastination, I call it a hobby.
For the past couple of seasons we have witnessed the fashion houses play musical chairs with their creative directors. The departure of Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, the appointment of Hedi Slimane at Céline, Riccardo Tisci for Burberry, the list goes on.
Every time a new designer is appointed to an established house it causes a frenzy, and the fashion world waits in excitement to see how he or she interprets the codes of said house. An ongoing focus is how a new designer can reinterpret the brand without being disrespectful to its past. Hedi’s first collection for Celine (née Céline) fueled a discussion on whether or not the new creative director of a house should feel obliged to uphold its brand identity. Not only was Hedi’s collection controversial, where many, myself included, felt that Phoebe Philo’s work for the past 10 years was washed out in an instant, he also erased the house’s Instagram pre-Hedi era, and stripped off the accent of the e in Céline.
A highly anticipated show this season was Bottega Veneta, where the 32-year old English designer Daniel Lee has replaced Tomas Maier, after Maier’s 17 years at the helm. Lee’s pre-fall collection for the brand went viral on social media, and a lot of the buzz emanates from the fact that Lee was Phoebe Philo’s right-hand man at Céline for 6 years. This begged the question of whether or not Lee would be the knight in shining armor for all those women suffering from post-Phoebe depression. A lot of expectation to put on his shoulders, to say the least.
In addition, Bottega is a brand often described to be the Italian equivalent of Hermès, known for its luxe leather goods and classic evening wear. Yet, Maier’s subtle and luxurious collections over the past years have not generated enough newness for the luxury consumer. So how would Lee turn this around?
Well, he made Bottega cool. He supersized the famous woven leather intrecciato technique, and worked it into the maxi-bags, the shoes, the skirts and the beautiful leather jackets. A highly identifiable code that needs no logo. There was a roughness to the collection, leather pants, dresses and coats, paired with chunky boots. However, breaking down the looks there were so many elegant pieces that will easily translate to the original Bottega customer.
The beautifully tailored leather coats that look soft as butter with gold hardware details. The subtly sexy knit dresses that expose only the collarbones with a beautiful cut-out frame. The bare décolleté was a clear theme, and as Lee himself commented after the show; “It’s a part of the body that women feel comfortable exposing, no matter what their age.” He also showed some stunning evening bags, a perfect replacement to the famous Bottega knot clutch. My personal favorite was, however, the shoes. The heels were awkwardly square, yet stunningly chic (I have already started saving for a pair), and the boots were lumpy and rough but with an elongated calf that went high above the ankle, balancing the proportions out beautifully. Ugly-elegance at its finest.
A lot of what we saw on the runway challenged the eye, but if it doesn’t challenge you, you’ve probably seen it before. Daniel Lee, thankfully, did not pull off a Céline 2.0. He used Bottega’s craftsmanship to make a strong collection full of wearable and real clothes for all women - and if this is what he brings on from Céline, it sure is enough for me.