Bottega Veneta, the Italian high-fashion brand known for its timeless leather goods and elegant fashion collections, is experiencing a renaissance with its new creative director, Matthieu Blaza. For GentleWoman, Fashion Courier reviews the Belgian designer’s latest collection for the iconic fashion house, explores his new approach to closet construction and reports on the hottest news from the Milan show.
Table of Contents:
- Evolution, not revolution – what is the Bottega Veneta renaissance all about?
- Luxury comfort – what did Kate Moss surprise with at the spring show?
- A woman is changeable – how does an Italian brand build a timeless closet?
- Back to office – what does the new designer offer for businesswomen?
- Accessories worth investing in – what accessories are worth looking at at Bottega Veneta?
Evolution, not revolution
Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta is undergoing a revolution. Or rather, evolution. For years, the brand, founded in 1966, focused on leather handbags and suitcases; in the 1990s it began to focus on the ready-to-wear sector. Actress Lauren Hutton made one of the company’s label handbags a screen star in the film “American Gigolo” (directed by Paul Schrader). In 2001, the Kering conglomerate took control of the company, and over the past decades Bottega Veneta has generated more than $1 billion in revenue annually. But in recent years, something began to go missing; a brand based on a discreet tradition of craftsmanship began to fade alarmingly in the global market.
New designers and new visions came to the rescue. After abruptly ending his partnership with British designer Daniel Lee in 2021 – who commercially revitalized the brand with iconic accessories and ingrained the brand in the minds of a new generation of customers by introducing the distinctive shade of neon green to everything from product packaging to boutique poofs – Matthieu Blazy took the helm of creative director. He is a Belgian with a truly outstanding resume and has been highly regarded by industry insiders for years.
Having designed ready-to-wear collections for brands such as Maison Margiela and Céline, it was clear that more than just photogenic handbags would be expected from Blazy. With a new designer, Bottega Veneta is focusing on creating a full, solid closet that does not follow trends (or the now fashionable “micro-trends”), but is fully tailored to the modern woman. These are clothes that not only please the eye, but pamper (and stimulate) the senses.
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The spring-summer 2023 collection is Blazy’s second show approach for the fashion house – much more expressive and confident than last year’s debut. Visitors to Milan Fashion Week froze at the sight of Kate Moss on the catwalk, dressed not in an elaborate creation, but in an outfit that at first glance seems all too modest, too simple: a blue plaid shirt, a white T-shirt, loose jeans. The model looked natural and carefree, as if she was pictured in an iconic Calvin Klein jeans ad from three decades ago.
Important reminder: Bottega Veneta is a brand that specializes in leather. And time for the biggest surprise: the whole “casual” look was actually made of… leather. This seemingly flannel shirt requires as many as twelve layers of high-tech printing to achieve the right depth of color, and these leather “jeans” even feel like denim to the touch. “It’s the kind of casual comfort we’ve taken to the extreme. We call it perverse banality,” Blazy explained this intriguing idea to the press. With such an outstanding workshop specializing in leather goods as at Bottega Veneta, a designer can afford even the most daring experiments.
A woman is a changeling
A woman is changeable – this is exactly what Blazy understands after years of experience in designing women’s collections. The Bottega Veneta customer is neither an absolute minimalist nor a total maximalist. In terms of its style, it is guided by mood, not by shoveling “aesthetics.” Once she wants to bet on comfort in the spirit of Kate Moss’ leather styling, and at other times she opts for the craziest evening outfit. In this case, Blazy offers a divine gown with a sweetheart neckline, completely covered with tassels, in a dynamic shade of turquoise. Or the masterpiece that is silhouette number 55, which is a dress consisting of two layers: a silk petticoat and an openwork red mini with hand-cut, three-dimensional flowers (for which the brand offers matching gloves).
An intriguing proposal is a series of creations made not of thick, “carpet-like” knitwear (as it would seem at first glance), but thousands of beads that even “dance” with every movement of the body. The collection’s abstract motifs and patterns loosely reference the expressive work of Italian artist Gaetano Pesce, who created an in-situ installation and some four hundred hand-formed resin chairs especially for the show. Unfortunately, they did not end up in the hands of guests invited to the show, but will instead be put up for sale at the upcoming Design Miami art fair. This is one of the brand’s first artistic collaborations under Blazy’s creative leadership. The designer stresses that nothing inspires him more than the art world, and the fashion house should become a platform for promoting artists with a unique point of view.
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Back to office
The Belgian designer also keeps in mind a closet for businesswomen. Leather, of course, dominates here: a chic “wrap-dress” in a cognac shade with a pointed collar; a double-sided burgundy coat (covered with tassels on one side and braided “intrecciato” on the other – an artisanal trademark of the brand) imposed over a classic cream blouse and a burgundy pencil skirt. Also impressive are the faux fur suits juxtaposed with “leather” denim, as well as more than a dozen loosely tailored suits (all of which are unisex). Matthieu Blazy is able to surprise with avant-garde ideas, as well as serve up timeless classics in a convincing way.
Accessories worth the investment
The new era of Bottega Veneta has no shortage of accessories worth investing in. The new compact cut of the “Sardine” handbag with a metal handle is an instant classic and a chic answer to the 2000s-style handbag-bag that dominated other catwalks. The aforementioned “intrecciato” appears in the form of over-size clutch bags. For those who carry everything from their laptop to their favorite book on a daily basis, a suede shopper bag will work well. From a distance, it resembles a brown paper net. And when it comes to shoes, Blazy opts for safe styles that will always come in handy in the closet: python skin cowboy boots, heeled sandals and “manly” varnish boots with thick soles.
What will be the Belgian designer’s next step as Bottega Veneta’s creative director? We will see at the end of February, during Milan Fashion Week for the fall-winter 2023 season. GentleWoman is looking forward to the new collection!