Daniel Lee’s Pre-Fall 2019 collection for Bottega Veneta – his first as the new Creative Director after Tomas Maier left – really, really excited us. It spoke directly to women who grieved the loss of Phoebe Philo at Celine, the smart women who wanted their clothes injected with intrigue and a touch of head-turning eccentricity. But for Fall/Winter 2019, Lee quickly established that he is not doing Celine 2.0, or Old Celine, or even old Bottega.
He is doing new Bottega Veneta, and while it contained elements of Pre-Fall, it veered into entirely different territory from anything we’ve seen at either house. Take the rigid framework of his collars and necklines, which laid open and seemed to pull up and away from the body. Where did that idea come from? Certainly not the Bottega or Celine archives. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Lee’s strong assertions certainly show a distinct point of view, and some of his efforts were more successful than others. Social media went wild for the thick-soled, combat boots that stomped the Bottega Veneta runway, and both praised and questioned his leather biker looks – they were cool but they didn’t exactly look comfortable to wear. His quilted skirts, which were clasped together with chains laced through Bottega Veneta’s new signature “V” shaped hardware, were a cool idea, but the overlong shirts they were paired with made for awkward proportions. Awkward is in, though, so we have a feeling it was intentional.
[It] is intriguing enough to soak up a whole new generation of younger patrons who might never have given the previous incarnation of the house a second glance.
However, those elements aside, the rest of the collection was filled with winning looks. Sparkly shirt dresses, jackets that maximized the house’s iconic intrecciato weave, creamy coats shut closed by contrast tabs, ruched frocks, and deconstructed layers will all appeal to the modern woman. Although the elegant femininity of Maier’s Bottega Veneta has evaporated overnight, what has come in its place is intriguing enough to soak up a whole new generation of younger patrons who might never have given the previous incarnation of the house a second glance.