For his debut collection, the newly appointed Bottega Veneta creative director Matthieu Blazy wasn’t interested in reinventing the wheel. The wheel, ie Bottega, was doing exceedingly well while he was second in command to his predecessor Daniel Lee. What appeared was a collection that stayed true to a vision that Blazy was clearly a part of developing while reminding the audience that the brand is bigger than the egos of those who may come and go within its walls.
What he has done, however, is made it a much smoother ride.
From the opening looks – two models, male and female, dressed in the simple uniform of denim and a white shirt – it was clear that Blazy was creating a Bottega to be lived in. But this is, of course, Bottega Veneta and to assume they were JUST jeans and a shirt would do the brand’s heritage a disservice. Rather, both looks were made entirely of leather and worked so exquisitely that the illusion of staple streetwear was almost complete.
This set the tone of the entire show – an elevation of items that were familiar and wearable yet driven by details such as fabrication and cut lifting them into a new stratosphere of elegance. Motion and movement, Blazy explained after the show, was key to inspiring this new collection. A riff on the origins of the brand as a designer of leather bags. The original on-the-go accessory.
The prominence of leather in the collection, and how Blazy has reworked the material into clothing of impossible suppleness, was a nice nod to Bottega’s heritage and the future with Blazy behind the wheel, if I could extend the pun so slightly: suits, for both him and her, trousers and even an anorak all retooled in leather so precisely cut it looked entirely bespoke.
In contrast, knitwear retained a more hand-crafted feel with variations of colour and patching. It brought to the collection a softness that juxtaposed nicely to the rest of the clothing. Like we needed we needed to be reminded that clothing isn’t always dramatic, but can be cozy too.
To address the elephant in the room – or not in the room, as the case may be – while the codes that Lee put into place were still present, they weren’t the dominant feature. Blazy may have worked alongside Lee but his point of view is clearly his own. But that isn’t to say we’re about to see history repeat itself.
In fact, for the first time in a long time, it felt like we were watching a Bottega Veneta show. Not a Bottega Veneta By [insert name].