The news that Lee was stepping down stunned the industry. He did more than revive the Italian luxury goods house; he set the style agenda, as anyone who’s browsed the racks at a fast-fashion chain can tell you. Blazy’s appointment isn’t quite as surprising. He was Lee’s number two at Bottega Veneta from mid-2020, and Kering has had enormous success moving behind-the-scenes designers into the spotlight, see: Alessandro Michele at Gucci.
Also, Blazy is not the unknown that Lee was. The Belgian 37-year-old has been widely respected and liked since he first attracted notice at Maison Margiela Artisanal, where he was head designer in the early 2010s. Though he maintained the anonymity that the influential house founder was known for, Blazy’s work was distinguished, both attuned to the Margiela codes and of its time. Kanye West famously co-opted the crystal encrusted masks from Artisanal’s fall 2013 couture show for his Yeezus tour.
From Margiela, Blazy went to work for the exacting Phoebe Philo at Celine, who is said to have headhunted him herself (he and Lee overlapped there). And after that he joined Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, where his partner Pieter Mulier was the creative director under chief creative officer Raf Simons (Blazy and Mulier met at Simons’s Antwerp headquarters).
Elevating a company insider suggests that we’re in for a subtle shift at Bottega Veneta, rather than the wholesale reinventions that have become the norm across fashion. The Puddle boots that became unlikely status symbols under Lee’s tenure seem sure to remain, same with the oversize intrecciato motifs that gave an edge to the brand’s long-held artisanal codes. Indeed, in a statement Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman & CEO of Kering, said, “I am confident that Matthieu Blazy’s wealth of experience and broad cultural background will allow him to bring his creative impetus to the task of carrying on the legacy of Bottega Veneta.”
Blazy’s first collection for the label will be shown at Milan Fashion Week in February 2022.
Originally published on Vogue.com