#SuzyMFW: Bottega Veneta Weaves With A Younger Thread

It was not so much ‘a star is born’ as it was a rising fashion sun, as designer Daniel Lee brought to Bottega Veneta a tough freshness to match Milan’s summer-in-February weather.

The weather was all the more fortunate given that the setting was a transparent show space before the hefty city landmark, the triumphal Arch of Peace. Lee, appointed creative director in June 2018, is expected to bring a youthful dynamism back to a classic house.

A slip dress, bold in black leather, opened the show, while Bottega’s famous woven ‘intrecciato’ leather, invented for handbags, appeared for this winter 2019 collection as solid court shoes.

Don’t-mess-with-me boots followed – thick, flat and bold – to match a classic leather coat or what looked like a space suit, also in leather. This was a feisty woman, who, even when wound up in a knitted outfit, chose the wool in vivid vermillion.

Daniel Lee has come to Bottega by way of the much-admired Phoebe Philo of Celine, which made his position particularly intriguing, now that the other house’s style has been transformed into sexy youth, by new designer Hedi Slimane.

Lee did not appear to be scoring points but, rather, he was taking on Bottega Veneta with gusto and giving it what he described as ‘a sharp injection of modernity to traditional technique’. That meant ‘co-binding the human hand with technology to make it ‘simultaneously classic and contemporary’.

“It’s been such a long process because I started thinking about this almost a year ago, last April, so it feels longer than a normal season,” the designer said.

“I am happy with how it went,” Lee continued. “Everything that I was thinking about seemed to work out, I think, making beautiful clothes. “

The designer’s goal was familiar: balancing masculine and feminine on the same seesaw. The males got tougher sporty clothes, such as sweaters and heavy black trousers. Women got colour – a watery green pattern in a white skirt, mauve, a dash of scarlet – and leopard print. There were also gilded necklaces at the throats around a sweetheart neckline.

There was nothing, as they say, to frighten the horses or, more important, loyal existing clients. But there was a lure towards youth – the magnet of all established brands.