Sep 20, 2019
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Bottega Veneta: Still a work in progress

Sep 20, 2019

He is a sibylline fellow is Daniel Lee, a north of England fellow, a man of few words, though thankfully for Bottega Veneta a designer with plenty of ideas.

Bottega Veneta - Spring-Summer 2020 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

Lee staged his second runway show for the famed Venetian house on Thursday night, building a great set that riffed on the key essential of BV, intreccio leather. In less than a year, Lee has completely revived the house’s woven leather as an object of cool.

In his latest play on the material, Lee built a giant set inside the Palazzo del Senato, once the home of the offices of the Habsburg Austrian Empire when it ruled over the Duchy of Milan in the late 18th century. Beneath Lee’s immense Perspex catwalk was a series of woven one-meter leather bands. It was a great statement of intent.

But where Lee’s predecessor Tomas Maier flogged intreccio to death, with Lee the whole concept looks new and even thrilling.
His padded strap sandals and mules and silver intreccio high heels all looked very cool, as did excellent over-the-shoulder totes and some fab clutches. And that was the limit of the concept: intreccio was essentially limited to the accessories. 
The ready-to-wear had lots of range, from the body-conscious knitted cocktails or saucy one-shoulder little black dresses to some beautifully cut jackets with leg of mutton sleeves and some outstanding metallic chain mail party frocks. A 90s power sensibility for a classier 2020.
Barely a print in sight, except for a naughty blue monkey reaching for a pineapple, amid a somber color palette with just hints of orange, tapioca and lots of punchy Persian blue.
In a coed show, the menswear message was all about oversized pieces and volume. Cabans, cross-over blazers and lots of shorts that all looked two sizes too large for the models.

Bottega Veneta - Spring-Summer 2020 - Womenswear - Milan - © PixelFormula

An accomplished collection but not quiet a great show – too obvious were the 90s references, too restrained was the mood. Moreover, several enormous leather coats at the finale were real clangers – the models were clearly dismayed by the  looks, which buckled and bulged absurdly.
If anything, most aficionados left muttering that the best clothes Lee has produced so far for BV were presented as part of his spring pre-collection, shown in a science museum in Milan this June.
In a word, Lee has got la mode working again in BV, but not quite the mojo.

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