Never Obvious. Bottega Veneta AW20

With today’s breaking news of Raf Simons co-designing Prada with Miuccia Prada (!!!!!) since next season, Daniel Lee‘s Bottega Veneta might not have that much attention it had for a while in Milan this coming September. Still, Lee evidently tries to win with the mainstream hype that started to abruptly surround the brand he shook up, and tries risky things. Painful colour combinations that look so bad they’re actually good. Volume plays that aren’t the easiest to pull off. Accessories which are distant to regular “it” bags and “it” shoes (fringed octopus clutches, rubber boots in neons). I’m aware that the audience’s memory span is too small for noticing all the Phoebe Philo and Céline references (really, every single look reminded me of a specific collection – and especially Philo’s now iconic swan song line-up, which was also the last for Daniel), so no surprise the collection’s edginess is this electrifying. For autumn-winter 2020, Lee decided to examine softness – something he has missed in his debut last year. “When you look at the brand’s beginnings, everything it made was so soft. I find that super inspiring.” That thinking informed the ready-to-wear he put on the runway. But equally, so did the fact that at the age of 34, Lee is part of the street wear generation that’s wearing trainers, sweatshirts with prints and any piece of clothing that puts an emphasis on cool and comfort. He asked himself, “How do we put ourselves together in a considered, elegant way but still feel comfortable?”. His answer was simple: stretch. Even the refined men’s tailoring was built with stretch in it, he said, so it moves with the wearer. He also put big emphasis on both knit dressing and jersey, for both day and evening. Movement is his other obsession. He said he’s been spending a lot of time at La Scala watching dance performances; he likes all kinds, from ballet to modern. No wonder why those sequinned maxi-dresses and coats with floor-sweaping XXL-fringes look so amazingly vibrant and energetic once they are worn and presented in motion. Expect this collection to sell out within hours once the pieces arrive to the stores.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Hot. Bottega Veneta Pre-Fall 2020

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Maybe Daniel Lee‘s winning of nearly every nomination during the recent British Fashion Awards wasn’t such an exaggeration. His pre-fall 2020 collection for Bottega Veneta is so, so, so hot. First, he let colour in. The splashes of cobalt blue, rubber pink and sun-drenched ochre is a combination that will inject vibrance to your autumn wardrobe on a daily basis. Then, all the leather. Lee proves once again his respect for Bottega Veneta as a leather house, creating wonders. The signature intrecciato weaving goes XXL in coats and bags, the shoes get fun bubble quilts and the polished, over-sized pants have an amazing, butter-y texture. Also, something has shifted in Daniel’s ready-to-wear. Comparing to his last autumn-winter season, this one feels very sensual and body-friendly. Just take a look at the knitted dresses and tops with ankle-lenght fringes or the fluid-like sequinned eveningwear. Not speaking of the tailoring, which gets more and more refined with every season. And Bottega denim? A big yes.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Odd Sensuality. Bottega Veneta SS20

Daniel Lee‘s second collection at Bottega Veneta was the most anticipated moment of Milan fashion week. In fact, it’s the second collection that is the hardest: how to keep all the attention you had at the very beginning, excite everyone, and simultaneously be consistent? After his extremely promising debut and the global craze caused by the label’s pouches (they are a constant sold-outer on nearly each site) and so-fugly-it’s-good footwear, Daniel’s spring-summer 2020 was unexpectedly laid-back. Since all the Philophiles have turned into New Bottega fans, and they seem super assertive and passionate about it, it’s life-threatening to even say that I’m not really a fan of this collection. My first thought was that it’s the lazier version of autumn-winter 2019 line-up: same beaded dresses but in new colours, super over-sized coats, knitted dresses with sharp, at a first glance odd in positioning skin-baring details (as in case of men’s sweaters), leather bermuda shorts. The newest addition – the monkey printed silks – felt completely random. I might even say that I liked menswear more than womenswear: those blazers are to die for, not speaking of the black trench coat on James Turtlington (yes, this Turtlington). Bottega Veneta’s accessories thrive in being hot. Exaggerated weavings on the sandals are new take on the house’s intreciatto; the pouch clutch came in leather crotchet; the shoulder bags are bigger than ever. Still, the ready-to-wear missed the mark for me, as for the first impression. Maybe I’m saying that right now and I will change my mind when I see the clothes in stores.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Getting Better and Better. Bottega Veneta Resort 2020

It’s been 11 months since Daniel Lee‘s arrival to Bottega Veneta, and it seems he’s there for, like, forever. Throughout this short time, the brand received big love from clients, who never bought at Bottega before. And it seems that the success isn’t solely rooted on the absence of Phobe Philo. Lee and his team prove this in the resort 2020 collection, which is sublime in every aspect, from bags to clothes. Leather accessories, whether in the brand’s signature intrecciato weave or not, are so good. Just look at the wrist-slung, tightly knotted bag in blue or orange strips of soft matte leather, or the sandals in fake snake, which featured three and a half encirclements of leather strip that ran upwards (these worked to cinch Lee’s expertly cut wide-leg pants and were complemented by similarly functioning bracelets). Clothes are a delight, as well. Whether we’re speaking of the draped leather dress in orange worn by Maria Carla Boscono or all the trench coats that appeared in the look-book, it’s a dream wardrobe. Minimalism and top knotch craftsmanship aren’t a novelty, but Bottega Veneta and Salvatore Ferragamo get that balance especially well in Italy today. Better start saving…

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

The Want: Bottega Venetta’s Pouch

The Want: It’s one of the first designs by Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta. ‘The Pouch’ is an oversized clutch made with soft folds of the brand’s handwoven intrecciato leather that envelope the bag’s frame and create a voluminous, rounded shape. Bottega Veneta’s heritage of leather craftsmanship, refreshed and revised with modern sensibility. If only the price tag wasn’t that painful…

Photo by Edward Kanarecki.

Tenderness & Leather. Bottega Veneta AW19

First thing’s first: stop calling Daniel Lee’s Bottega Veneta the ‘new Céline’. Should we really replace Phoebe Philo? Phoebe has her irreplaceable style, which is the ideal balance between femininity, minimalism and artistic quirk. Those who have her clothes, lucky you, cherish and wear them. Let’s all hope she will come back to fashion soon – that’s it. On Lee’s note, yes, he ‘grew up’ creatively in her design studio, but I’m sure he must be already tired with all that loud comparing and the Philophiles-generated pressure of being a Céline replacement. Now it’s his Bottega Veneta, and as his debut runway collection proved, this guy has a mind of his own. I’m saying this right away: his collection didn’t completely ‘wow’ me, at some points it was over-complicated. But that’s fine, because every debut has its ups and downs. The designer focused on leather, because Bottega Veneta has always been a leather brand. While the motocross look felt, simply speaking, like too much leather, accessories were the most compelling part of the collection (the shoes in signature Intrecciato weave are so, so good, just like all the heavy boots, geometrical handbags and fringed clutches, of course in leather). A future Bottega Veneta customer should definitely invest in one of those new classics. A sharp injection of modernity was as well brought to clothes. A square neck dress that opened the collection was sensual, but strong, just like the asymmetric knits (they looked extra on guys) and quilted skirts. But then, some of the coats’ shoulders were a bit too bold and kind of conflicted with all this tender, close-to-body feeling. Good things are coming to Bottega Veneta, let’s just all hope the designer will get the time he needs to fully establish his new language for the brand. And don’t mistake him with Philo.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

New Start. Bottega Veneta Pre-Fall 2019

 

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.