Daniel Lee’s appointment as the new creative director for Bottega Veneta last year sparked a renewed interest for the brand. After all, he succeeded Tomas Maier who held the position for 17 long years and was widely credited for the high respect the Italian label now enjoys. However, Lee’s new designation took place at about the same time Celine (now sans the accent) welcomed its own new creative director, Hedi Slimane, who took a completely different direction from the effortless elegance of the Phoebe Philo era. Upon seeing teases of Lee’s inaugural collection, fans of Philo have hoped that Lee will take with him what he has learned from his former superior and their shared former employer.
For Bottega Veneta’s Fall 2019 collection though, Lee’s work deviated from expectations that the constructions will be Philo-like, just like the Old Céline. Sure, the influence was there, but the entire set could not be simplified as such. Instead, it was a manifestation of the British designer’s reverence for both Italian style and Bottega Veneta’s history, and a combination of his work background from Celine, Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan. It was a “celebration of freedom, self-expression and sensuality”, at least according to the brand’s show notes.
Lee, already armed with experience that is hard to play down, maximized his position as the lead of one of the world’s most esteemed high fashion brands by exploring how his personal style fits in with Bottega Veneta. The brand, best known for its subdued glamour and belief that its distinct icons are enough to speak for it, finds itself being reimagined in a modern way, sensual even. There were knits and jersey, and of course the house’s heritage Intrecciato weave is not one to be out of sight. The tailoring is sharp and clean, and the attention to detail put into each piece is hard to miss.
The latest collection from the label is one that attempts to keep up with the times without letting go of its heritage, as proven by its elevated take on casual wear and a relaxed approach on more business-appropriate attires. Such effect was made possible by the abundance of neutrals, which also manage to make the occasional pops of color easier on the eyes. The outerwear for women seem chunky and boxy, and the men’s were a little sharper. The Intrecciato weave has been a welcome sight on the dresses and bottoms, as well as the bags that remain among the most desired by luxury shoppers.
Lee’s first collection for Bottega Veneta earned him the applause of the crowd, which also include C-level execs from Kering, the conglomerate that owns the brand. CEO François-Henri Pinault came with his wife Salma Hayek, who is clearly a fan. Backstage, Lee spoke of studying Renaissance art for added inspiration to his collection. It may not be the Philo redux that Old Céline fans had their hearts on, but Lee has proven that he is a force who must be watched moving forward.
Image credits: Serichai Traipoom, Antonio Calanni/AP, Jacopo Raule/Getty Images, Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images, Victor Boyko/Getty Images, Lifestyle Asia, Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times, Imaxtree