So, I haven’t written about Bottega Veneta for ages. Here’s why. Tomas Maier’s vision for the brand was proper, classy. Sometimes comfy, sometimes lady-like. You always knew what to expect from him: very well-crafted, safe outings with occasional, special appearances. It seemed he’s at Bottega forever. Clearly, at one point the brand needed a stir. And here we are with Daniel Lee, British designer you surely never heard of a year ago. The moment Maier exited Bottega Veneta was just a few months after Phoebe Philo’s departure from Céline – and with a sudden gap to fill for Philophiles, Lee appeared in the right place, right time. He’s the guy who was at helm of ready-to-wear at Philo’s Céline. It seems to be clear that he should know how to design clothes suited for the Philo-loving women (and men). His debut, pre-fall 2019 presentation eventually feels very familiar to Phoebe’s presence. The collection orbited around leather (the brand is a heritage leather house) and the question of how it can be translated in a chic, modern way. The signature intrecciato technique appeared in coats and dresses, while the bags received an XXL treatment (so, so good!). Contrasting colour palette; minimal jewellery; sensual neck-lines; over-sized outerwear – it’s a stylish, elegant, yet comfortable wardrobe that’s absolutely seasonless and ageless. Menswear is impressive as well. One might say that there’s nothing overly innovative about it – but then, when was the last time you saw such a gorgoues, camel suit? I just hope that while everyone’s putting Lee into the ‘new Philo’ shelf, this won’t become a sort of curse for him. His design is close to Phoebe’s Céline, yes. But look again. It’s completely different. It’s rawer, it’s more modest, slightly Helmut Lang-ish (just see some of the 90s collections to get what I mean). I’m really, really can’t wait to see Daniel’s first runway collection – coming in March, I bet.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.