Character. Bottega Veneta SS23

Milan Fashion Week had a strong finale in form of Matthieu Blazy‘s second collection for Bottega Veneta. Don’t let the first impression of eclecticism, or even incoherence, fool you – the collection had a truly convincing plotline. It was about character and personality, which are conveyed by the clothes of the wearer. Knowing Blazy’s great affection for art, you could be sure to receive a full visual, as well as sensual, experience from his new season offering. To start, he set a fabulous scene, enlisting the 82-year-old Italian design pioneer Gaetano Pesce to create a site-specific installation that included a colorful, swirling poured resin floor and 400 unique chairs (all will be sold during the upcoming Design Miami). As the crowd filled the space, it appeared to be a meeting of unique personalities: Cicciolina circulated, Erykah Badu posed for pictures with Raf Simons, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee chatted with friends, and Pesce soaked it all in from the front row. “Unique” is really the operative word here. Backstage, Blazy said, “the collection started with meeting Gaetano. I went a lot to visit him in New York and we had a lot of discussions about diversity. He worked on his side and I worked on mine and we did a juxtaposition. The idea was ‘the world in a small room.’ We went full on,” he continued. “The idea was to represent different characters and put them in the landscape of Gaetano.” Picking up the thread from last season, the opening looks, though they looked like denim, flannel, and cotton tees, were all leather. Modeled by Kate Moss herself, a flannel shirt required 12 layers of prints to achieve the depth of color Blazy was after. “It’s this kind of casual comfort and we put it to an extreme and we call it perverse banality,” he said. Speaking of Moss, she looked as effortless wearing that ensemble as back in the 1990s, running from one show to another show, wearing the same look, not all-leather, rather all-thrifted. Blazy also revisited the “dynamic” silhouette he established last season, exaggerating the sense of clothes-in-motion by adding what could be described as fins to the back of pant legs. Similarly, the storm flaps on trench coats seemed to have caught a breeze and stayed there. The curving funnel necklines on jackets and shirts gave them a streamlined profile. These are subtle details, but if they’re missable by the uninitiated, they matter a lot to fashion obsessives who watch for such changes. This was a highly resolved collection, a reminder in a Milan Fashion Week (that included some shaky debuts and tedious tenures) of the importance of experience. Blazy has a lot of it, and it showed in all aspects of this show, including in the knit jacquard dresses and separates – “highly technical,” he said, “but the results are not technical, they’re emotional” – and in the trio of fringed finale dresses in colors lifted from Pesce. “It’s a new technique where you weave with fringe integrated into the fabric and they’re all knit by hand. That’s also very technical,” he laughed.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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