MFW AW22: Bottega Veneta

“IT IS style over fashion in its timelessness. That is part of its quiet power,” the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta, Matthieu Blazy, said when exploring the fundamentals of the brand for his debut collection. Since the announcement that Blazy would be taking the helm of the Italian fashion house, many rumours of what is to come with Bottega Veneta’s new direction have unsurprisingly arisen.

For Blazy, his portfolio of work, which includes Raf Simons, Maison Margiela Artisanal, Celine and Calvin Klein, has been predominantly behind the scenes, helping craft the vision of the most established designers of this century.

When he joined Bottega Veneta in 2020, he didn’t know he would go on to step into the shoes of Daniel Lee, whose three-year tenure revived the brand and created a legion of fans in the process.

Equally as unsurprising, therefore, was the smooth transition in which Blazy wore the shoes in question. Matthieu Blazy’s inaugural collection adopted the same practice of Lee, turning to the Bottega archive to build the body of his work, whilst incorporating subversive propositions that completely re-characterised the nods to the past.

With Blazy seasoning, the exuberant finishes, whimsical moveable proponents and unique adaption of nubuck were clear signifiers of a new voice at Bottega Veneta, one that is calculated, systematic and composed. Yes, they are big shoes to fill, but it seems Blazy has quickly made them even bigger.

Toying between pragmatic and playful, the new Bottega Veneta embodied a sense of cool. It was pared back, simple at a glance, but intertwined with enigmatic details that spoke in a language only the coolest in the fashion sphere understand. The leather pompoms, leather frill of a dance skirt, the leather scales-inspired bag made entirely with intreccio – woven without a single stitch, are all exquisite examples of this.

The permeation of the everyday with poignant materials and finishes is evident. It brings certain sensuality to otherwise considered basic pieces of clothing.

The boyfriend shirts worn by the female models may look like traditional shirting, but on closer inspection are made in a nubuck leather. Likewise, the opening look, a simple white vest and blue denim trouser created entirely in leather again and printed to echo the creases of well loved denim, creates an optical illusion enough to make you swoon.

On the pragmatic, practical side of things, Matthieu Blazy offered stripped down suiting in both female and male versions, the former fitting looser than the latter in a potential switch up of traditional fashion codes, which historically has applied a silhouette hugging hand to the female form.

The fabrications of the AW22 collection at Bottega Veneta are rigorous, exclusively formulated to be both ultra-light as well as full, both heavily textured but with unprecedented movement, and both simple yet technically advanced in prints and appliqué.

The new jersey is modernised with shoulder pads in v neck dresses on some occasions and at others, built to produce a unique curve to the body; the array of knit is patchworked to display every skilful stitch in clearest form; the colourful crotchet found on dresses is woven into a unique and highly abstract print – all suggesting the conflict between soft and hard, between simple and extravagant, between Bottega Veneta codes and Blazy’s debut energy.

The accessories, an undeniable point of anticipation, were straightforward  in comparison to Lee. Yes there were pillow inspired clutch bags, doubling up as cushions for all those invited to the show, and yes there were unusual handles as well as curved silhouettes to shoes and bright orange furry finishes to platform loafers, but each were comforting and somewhat subtle additions to the array of finery in the collection.

Blazy presented accessories that could be adapted to each wearer, that could be worn and lived in in a multitude of ways depending on their purpose, and executed with a blank canvas that allows each owner to tell their own tale through the piece.

The familiarity of these accessories is manifested in the knowledge that many of these creations have been seen under the designers Blazy has worked for, consequentially insinuating that this collection is a bid for Blazy to lay claim in a new, and independent, sphere.

Brimming with wardrobe staples, leatherwork expertise, and a sense of motion and emotion to each piece presented, the AW22 collection by Matthieu Blazy for Bottega Veneta was a triumph, a pure spectacle of the feeling behind clothes.

Perhaps what makes Bottega Veneta, Bottega Veneta, is this dual element of investment, one which is both emotional as well as material – these are objects for every element of life. A doorway into the world of Blazy’s Bottega has been opened – and we hope it stays that way.

by Lily Rimmer