#SuzyNYFW: Bottega Veneta ‘We’ll Take New York!’
It’s a meld of two worlds that seem very real – the artist in the store,” said Tomas Maier, who brought an upbeat spirit to beleaguered Wall Street with a Bottega Veneta show that took over the vast building of New York’s Stock Exchange.
By the time superstar Gigi Hadid, in an exquisitely worked black lace dress, had walked a stage installation of lush velvet couches, Gio Ponti chairs, artistic sculptures and a blazing fire, the message was clear: Italian craftsmanship mixed with American exuberance.
Maier presented his vision of a balance between Italian and American influences with the collaboration of Tony-award winning theatre and set designer Scott Pask. That conception was united on stage as a stark Brutalist interior “softened by the curved lines and rich colour of Italian design with a jolt of contemporary American sculpture,” as Maier put it.
The story had started the previous evening on Madison Avenue, where a lifestyle Bottega store opened its five-storey emporium of subdued glamour – not least the velvet couches in sweet, but muted shades – and everything a man or woman might want for today’s international life. But true to the current spirit of personalisation, there were letters that could be worked into handbags, corresponding, according to CEO Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, to the company’s slogan: ‘When your own initials are enough’.
The runway version of this modern luxury was less discreet and more colourful with a vivid palette of mustard velvet and lilac with daffodil-yellow satin, yet it was still possible to grasp in the gigantic hall the Italian workmanship that turned even an ‘I Love New York’ bag into a marvel of intricate hand craft.
Surrounded by models, who had been lounging on the couches, and by Julianne Moore, her daughter Liv, and Salma Hayek, actress wife of Kering company’s owner François-Henri Pinault, the discreet designer explained how he wanted to merge Bottega’s Italian culture from Renaissance to Art Deco with the “bravery and boldness” of unstoppable New York.
The surprise was in the bold menswear, showed in blocks between the women’s looks. A papal purple plaid jacket or a tiger print faced off a plain orange suit or a colourful coat with block prints. It all suggested Asian clients (with Chinese actor Wu Lei sitting front row) or perhaps LA. Even if the Dow index were swinging high, not dangerously low, it was tough to imagine much of this male clothing in New York City. Although behind the colour and drama of a mustard-painted jacket worn with royal-blue satin trousers were cunningly tailored jackets with stitched checkering.
The women’s clothes were easier to digest: there was a soft elegance to casual wear with colour, as in an ankle-length coat shrugged over a slouchy velvet top and trousers. Maier seemed to be taking on a new role as colourist with a tiger-print golden-yellow coat worn over a geometric-patterned mustard-yellow dress. This meld of craftsmanship and low-key polish went right through from roll-neck collars to ankle high boots.
The absolute separation of female and male models seemed awkward, especially as the menswear was so pointedly based on ‘fashion’ – as in a coat tailored into coloured squares or more colour blocks on soft trousers.
The female fashion was delicate in its mix of materials, rich in its colours yet still casual, as apricot velvet poured down the body into a puddle at the floor.
Perhaps without any intention to show off, Bottega proved what separates the best European brands and American companies who have quit the shows in New York and are trying to compete in Paris. With conspicuous gaps in New York’s seven-day fashion calendar, it is hard to imagine any ‘local’ serving up such a blend of Bottega’s bravado and beauty.