Matthieu Blazy’s Bottega Veneta was back with a bang this weekend in Milan, celebrating the power of individuality. Last season, all eyes were on the Italian house to see Blazy’s debut for the brand. Opening with a white tank and jeans (which turned out to be made of leather), Blazy’s first collection (AW22) received a warm reception and plenty of attention – attention that has only continued to grow for SS23.
This time around, the classic white tank was back to open the show again – swiftly followed by its menswear counterpart, a white tee and jeans, again crafted in illusion leather. We saw cashmere iterations follow, ensuring that the white tank is still undoubtedly the piece of the season. Updating normcore codes and elevating them on to a luxury platform, Bottega Veneta proved once again that sometimes simplicity is best, and that there’s more to their designs than initially meets the eye.
Kate Moss’ look agreed with this sentiment – making a plaid shirt and trompe l’oeil jeans quiet luxury, thanks to the rich craftsmanship its composition requires (both of these were also made from leather). Elsewhere, classic house motifs such as Bottega Veneta’s signature weaving were back, comprising ultra-slick black trench coats, shockingly silver boots and of course, the bags.
Speaking of which – Bottega Veneta’s accessory offering continued to develop and progress this season. We saw the return of the bucket it-bag, which has proved a favourite of celebrities such as Dua Lipa in recent months, along with some new silhouettes which ranged from macro to micro. Featuring sculptural planes and imposing structures, these bags built on the brand’s impressive roster of accessories, continuing to cement it as the luxury bag destination of choice for so many.
Illustrating this point further was the fact that models often gripped two bags in the same hand – why stop at one good thing, when you can have two? Meanwhile, classic Bottega Veneta green was complemented with a new sage and lime iteration of the colour- most notably on fringing, a signature of the brand which returns on a new skirt each season. Developing its fringing into a series of showstopping gowns last night, Blazy showcased his keen grasp of intuitive designing: responding to the glowing reception the fringing in AW22 prompted by progressing the motif into a full set of premium looks.
Coming in corals, blues, greens and yellows, these dresses achieved the aim of elevating the collection into a couture-adjacent sphere in their drama, but also spoke to another key tenet of the SS23 collection: movement. Perhaps seen most clearly through the bouncing skirts, hemlines and free-swinging bags slung over shoulders, Blazy’s Bottega was infused with a distinct type of energy that translated on to the catwalk in a way that only immactulately-made clothes can: visibly.
As well as bringing the collection to life in its visceral kinetic quality, the collection’s emphasis on movement wasn’t all about fluidity – it also served to highlight the contrasts and contradictions within the pieces. Earlier in the line up, Blazy debuted a series of severe, heavy-set tailored suits, in a new neo-noir silhouette. Collarless, thick and structural, we saw them cinch models’ waists, or offer a luxury take on traditional workwear in their rigidity.
And instead of diluting the swishing kineticism of the fringing later on, this section only served to complement and highlight it further – as if Bottega Veneta were saying get you a collection that can do both. For Blazy, this collection exists in juxtaposition: a sense of concreteness interspersed with moments of fleeting fluidity, elegance meeting utility, and thriving on both motion and emotion. There was something for everyone, or for one person dressing for multiple events – and none of these options were placed on a higher pedestal than any other.
In contrast to Gucci’s exploration of the ambiguities and reflections in identical doubling this season, Bottega Veneta’s SS23 was a masterclass in celebrating the quirks and commodities of being different people, who want and exist in different ways. And in essence, this is what (new) Bottega Veneta is about: the quiet power that freedom of individuality provides, and as Blazy put it, “the world in a small room – we are all different, and this is our defining quality…we are all originals”.
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