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Bottega Veneta: Modern classicism, with a pinch of Palladio

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Feb 23, 2020
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​Classicism with a clever twist at Bottega Veneta, where in just three seasons designer Daniel Lee has established himself as a major fashion player.

Quirky classicism in his marvelous set Saturday evening in Milan, a brilliant digital composite of great villas, all designed by arguably the single greatest architect in history – Andrea Palladio. Except, these virtual statues of demi-clad warriors and antique goddesses all moved during the show.

Bottega Veneta - Fall-Winter2020 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula


Movement, which was at the heart of this rather excellent collection, where multiple looks were finished with dangling, undulating fringes; from a trio of stunning shearling coats that ended in scores of tails, to rippling citrus sequined dresses made with bat wings.
 
In a co-ed show, Lee opened with several guys – strictly cut long coats with Napoleonic lapels, all reeking of pricey, double-face cashmere. Vitruvius would have been happy with the cut. The details all seemed right; from the one top golden button, to the horizontal suspender nipping in the look at the back. His pants were flared, his cuffs too, and there was a classy, faintly naughty edge – was that a corset the guy was wearing?


Bottega Veneta - Fall-Winter2020 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula


The ladies wore something rather similar for day; like the elongated prim corporate suit on Kaia Gerber. At night, they wore seamless sequined columns and tulip dresses, with their metal trim that were accompanied by waxed Barbour-style spy trench-coats. All just that tad agreeably subversive. 

Staged in the enormous Palazzo del Ghiaccio skating rink, the musical accompaniment was a beautiful live duet between cellist Patrick Belaga and violinist Kai Kight. And all the fine DJ music the fashion pack had heard for the last few weeks in New York City, London and Milan suddenly seemed passé. The music was that good. 
 
“I wanted between the super formal and what has been so prevalent in fashion, which has been street. Clothes that allow you to feel very elegant and done up, yet at the same time comfortable. There is always an element of restraint to everything we do here. But we really tried to let go this time. Mixing free and strict,” said Lee, in a cramped and airless backstage with a half dozen heavies leaning in on editors, looking absurdly like extras out of a Guy Ritchie movie. By the way, the biggest celebrity backstage was Sigourney Weaver.


Bottega Veneta - Fall-Winter2020 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

 
Lee also, finally, made the BV intreccio leather look cool again, for editors and not just buyers. It was basically impossible to attend a show this month without seeing a retailer wearing Lee’s large-form intreccio high-heels. His new softer, padded versions for shoes, clutches, totes and absurdly large weekender plumber bags will all be hits too. 
   
“The bags came from delving into the archive and that heritage of Bottega Veneta. The weave is a tremendous source of inspiration. To me it was the time to celebrate the more traditional intreccio and softness and why they first became successful,” the designer opined.
 
Asked about why he wanted the classical video villa, which he had built inside the giant 1920s, 1,800 square-meter ice rink, Lee replied: “I’ve been asking myself what is the point of fashion and the point of an artist and for me that felt like something quite theatrical. What we really wanted, was to consider how fashion can transform you to a different place. From somewhere quite anonymous to somewhere quite beautiful. Secondly, I wanted a completely recyclable set that didn’t leave any physical trace. So everything was entirely digital.”
 
Palladio and Vitruvius would possibly have approved.

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