(New) New Bottega. Bottega Veneta AW22

The new new Bottega Veneta, under Matthieu Blazy‘s creative direction, isn’t an abrupt aesthetical leap from Daniel Lee’s days, but definitely feels much sleeker, decluttered and sharper edit-wise. A smooth transition from Lee, who re-invented the Italian brand, to Blazy, who is one of industry’s unsung design heroes (and creatives who worked with the former behind Bottega), resulted in a debut filled with studied, somewhat subversive propositions that are more composed and toned-down than before. Blazy has the kind of track record that makes fashion people stand up straight: he interned at Balenciaga; worked for Raf Simons; what was then called Maison Martin Margiela; Céline under Phoebe Philo; Calvin Klein under Raf Simons. Fashion geeks would have delighted in recognising symbols and techniques tied to his time at those brands, which re-appeared in this collection, especially from Calvin Klein and Bottega Veneta. As a designer whose name hasn’t been formally credited until now, it was as if he was claiming his inventions.

The show opened with a white tank top and blue denim trouser entirely created in leather (!), the latter printed as an optical illusion. The ordinary-to-extraordinary idea of Blazy’s opening look fuelled a collection founded in the weird-ification and glam-ification of classics, from workwear and formal suits to cocktail and even ballroom dress codes. In the tradition of Lee, Blazy continued Bottega Veneta’s focus on the kind of fashion the industry recognises as cool: artsy in form language, intellectually informed, and with the “off” cutting and detailing that make the wrong feel right. On his runway, it had an added chilliness to it, which perhaps heightened the objective. Cases in point were enigmatic details like leather pom poms on cocktail dresses, the square leather closures on a blazer, the leather frill crinoline of a dance skirt, and those abstract crochet dresses. More pragmatic wardrobe proposals included peacoat suits and the men’s knitwear and leather. I wonder what direction will Blazy’s vision go in the next seasons.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.