Simplicity. Bottega Veneta Resort 2023

Bottega Veneta‘s resort 2023 collection feels like a toned-down transition point between Matthieu Blazy‘s debut collection and the sophomore outing we’ve seen last September. The designer approached the inter-season offering in a practical way. “We wondered, what do we want to wear ourselves? How can we make clothes that are cool and at the same time the ultimate luxury? It’s no big concept,” he continued. “It was really the idea of making beautiful clothes that we want to wear. At the end it’s about looking cool and looking beautiful.” In his first two seasons as the creative director at Bottega Veneta, Blazy has managed the elusive trick of producing desire, not by over-designing or over-complicating, as often happens in high fashion, but by believing in simplicity, which is resort’s biggest credo. Silhouette is one of Blazy’s key preoccupations. The jacket shoulder proportions of a button-down in pinstriped cool wool, and the mid-century shape of a skirt structured to blossom at the hips, are the highlights. His interest in unexpected forms extends to handbags. The helmet-shaped satchel is inspired by the headgear of Milan’s scooter commuters and is another fun result of the team’s elevation of the everyday. “It was quite a playful exercise,” he said of the work the team did this season. “It felt quite free.” At the same time, Blazy is slowly, steadily crafting his Bottega Veneta language. The denim – Bottega’s latest hit – comes in leather (yes, that mind-blowing, denim-looking-trompe-l’oeil leather) and in actual leather. The brass finish hardware of the Sardine bag has been incorporated as a jewelry detail on a little black dress, and the metal studs that gave movement to Fortuny pleat skirts for fall appear as trim on a bias silk cocktail dress.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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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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NET-A-PORTER Limited

(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.