There’s a new kid on the block at Bottega Veneta and with his first offering, for Pre-Fall 2019, young designer Daniel Lee has tapped the house codes while cautiously introducing new designs and tweaks to a solid repertoire of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, shoes, and accessories.
Displayed at the Cavallerizze, a section of the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan – all high archways, shards of natural light, exposed brickwork, and fresh-from-the-field floral displays – the feeling that the brand is entering a new, democratic chapter was evident from the outset.
Following in the footsteps of Tomas Maier’s 17-year tenure, Lee takes the reigns at Bottega Veneta fresh from a stint as director of ready-to-wear at Celine and it was clear from the large gold buckle belts, the soft leather square toe boots, and the ‘everyday effortlessness’ of his tailoring that the ghosts of his design past were still very much in the room. But that’s not to say they aren’t welcome – far from it.
Starting with the bags, Lee explored the brand’s signature intrecciato weave, incorporating it into totes in a variety of sizes, including XXL (certain to be a favorite come fashion week). Splitting his time between London and a new atelier based in Milan, the designer has been mining his new professional home, admiring the brass-work featured on architecture around the city and incorporating various elements into, for example, metal handles on his handbags.
He has been thinking about how Italian women dress, too, and the essentialism of what women today need in their everyday lives. The result is a mix of textures perfect for layering (modest dressing, tick), from signature leathers to chunky shearling. An authentic natural cotton for pants seemed to lack styling potential and there were too many forgettable shirt dresses and potentially unflattering bulbous skirt shapes. But other pieces, including a tailored camel jacket with a scooped neckline carved out with a raw edge, and a leather skirt and top combo with leather laser-cut to look like fish scales, featured couture-like craftsmanship. Turtleneck bodysuits, silky satin blouses, and slip dresses (with knotted straps), leather shift dresses with belt loop detailing and various quilt-effect skirts proved stronger and echoed the luxury the Bottega customer has come to expect.
Solid outerwear appeared in both the women’s and men’s collections and ultimately the latter proved a bigger success story overall. More sporty, with hooded jackets, long-length leather shorts, multi-lace sneakers, and knits with athleisure cutaway detailing, the men’s pieces really sang in a pitch that the women’s just couldn’t quite hit. Extra wide leg trousers paired with expertly cut coats were simply beautiful and felt modern – young, sophisticated, luxurious. Come the Fall 2019 show in February, there’s some evening up to do but we’re confident Lee, with his knack for creating real clothes with a luxury kick, is more than capable.