Review: Bottega Veneta AW19

At Milan Fashion Week, Bottega Veneta’s Autumn/Winter 2019 collection marks the official debut of the new creative director Daniel Lee.

With extensive experience at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Céline, the 32-year-old mystery designer has always hidden behind the scenes. But when it’s finally time to shine, Lee doesn’t hold back, surprising everyone with a reinterpretation of the Italian brand’s famous, artisanal leather craftsmanship.

Parco Sempione on one side and the Arch of Peace on the other, both visible through the glass walls of the installation, offer the perfect venue for this runway. Its theme is “a celebration of freedom, self-expression and sensuality”. This is the starting point for a very precise work of research that allowed the writing of a new chapter for Bottega Veneta, where classic meets contemporary and the traditional conventions of fashion undergo an injection of modernity. Redefining the brand with a new “sensuality” - a brand hardly known to be sexy - was never going to be easy. But with this collection, Bottega Veneta will be remember for its sensuousness, a fashion house formerly known for its traditionalism and sobriety. 

The leather for coats, shirts and skirts is characterised by structured cuts and it perfectly matches the tailored silks and knitwear. Lots of leather is offered through a diverse range of inspirations and clothing because the collection, for both men and women, is composed by clothes and designs that seem to contradict each other and clearly depict the multifaceted reality of today’s fashion. Men alternate between tailored suits and leather biker jackets (probably an attempt to open even more the brand to millennials), while women add a sense of sharp voluptuousness.

Craftmanship meets technology, as textures appear to be colliding in a clash of tradition and innovation that finds harmony in highly modern and sophisticated clothes. It is an essential (in stark contrast with the rival Gucci’s pompousness) but not minimal collection, rigorous but sexy, where the palette ranges from shadowy dark tones to flashes of accurately-chosen colours: bright green or orange, for example.

Some of the male knitwear with circular cuts on the hips are reminiscent of the androgynous sensuality characterising the 90’s - perhaps a sign of the direction towards a more inclusive and fluid approach to fashion that Bottega Veneta wants to take in the future. A circus of volumes and geometries, textures and optical patterns will dictate Autumn/Winter 2019 according to Bottega Veneta. Daniel Lee says that he wants to cause “pleasure and joy, desire for beauty” with his work. It is safe to say he’s fully done that with this brave collection, paving the way to a new identity for the Italian brand. 

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