Intimate Tactility. Bottega Veneta SS21

Here it is: one of the most anticipated collections of the season, presented publically three months after the usual spring-summer schedule. Daniel Lee came up with the most challenging and intriguing line-up yet, proving that his Bottega Veneta isn’t just about hype accessories. Back in October, selected guests arrived at Sadler’s Wells in London and sat on the stage immersed in light and sound as models wearing Lee’s new collection snaked through the socially distanced chairs. Had the pandemic not prevented it, Lee would’ve liked to take the concept around the world. “It was a bit like going backwards and thinking about how fashion shows began. This idea of salon shows,” he explained. “It felt extremely intimate and much more personal.” Throughout the show, which rather felt like an improvised happening, Neneh Cherry’s musings on style and clothes were the soothing soundtrack. The collection is defined by its tactility. Much of it is knit, sometimes in quite thick-gauge yarns. The jacquards practically pulsate, and there are dresses made entirely from car seat beads or tiny shards of pearlescent shells. Lee studied knitwear at Central Saint Martins, so no wonder why he feels confident with this medium. Case in point is the stretch-knit skirt suit in Bottega green that opens this look book. With its buttoned-to-the-neck cropped jacket and its mini-length carwash hem skirt, it doesn’t so much speak to our shut-in moment as it does gleefully anticipate our reemergence. “I wanted to create a world and a universe that felt very glamorous and done up, but also quite stripped and quite pure,” Lee said. “I’m always interested in this idea, of how you can feel done up and elegant at the same time as feeling comfortable. That’s really my kind of mission for Bottega.” Lee saved his boldest experiments for silhouettes. Many of the dresses are built up at the hips with padding. On a raw linen sundress the padding is hidden inside, but on a series of knit dresses it’s exposed as surface decoration. He explained that they were looking at the Tudor period, Henry VIII specifically. It’s a demanding shape, which will definitely keep the clients surprised and amused. And yes, all this creativity emerged from the early months of the pandemic makes it more impressive. On that subject Lee said: “A lot of us moved to Milan for Bottega, and obviously with the world shut down, all we really have is each other at the studio and the work. It’s almost like a therapy. It gets you through the darkest times because you can completely lose yourself in making a beautiful fabric, a beautiful garment.” So, not everything is becoming virtual, after all.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.