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Bottega Veneta’s Spring-Summer 2024 collection is a study on travel

The heritage Italian bagmaker-turned-luxury-buzz-brand Bottega Veneta has the fashion world in a frenzy. With a new collection that celebrates travel and kinetics, it’s a brand on the move, writes Divya Bala.

In his notes for the Spring-Summer 2024 collection shown in Milan in September 2023, Bottega Veneta creative director Matthieu Blazy noted the inspiration of his offering as an odyssey, both physical and emotional. “[It is] free and hopeful. A connection to who you once were, who you would like to be and where you want to go… It is a journey of transformation and escape.”

The history of Bottega Veneta

Indeed, both Bottega Veneta and the designer himself are no strangers to transformation. The company was founded in 1966 in Vencenza, Italy, by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro. Shortly after the departure of Zengiaro in the late ’70s, Taddei handed the reins over to his ex-wife, Laura Braggion, who would introduce the brand to the US after becoming an assistant of Andy Warhol, whose studios made the short film, Bottega Veneta Industrial Videotape in 1985. The brand’s primary product was leathergoods and, from the beginning, the company’s values – as emblazoned on their crest – have been ‘work and talent, craftsmanship and creativity’, or, ‘labor et ingenium, mestiere e creatività’.

The house adopted a motto of, ‘When your own initials are enough’, forgoing loud logos and instead focusing on quality, craftsmanship, design and discrete luxury.

2000 – 2021

However by 2001, the maximalism of the ’80s and ’90s had seen the brand near bankruptcy. A company acquisition spearheaded by Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole. Who, at the time, were leading the then Gucci Group, followed. Tomas Maier, who had spent almost a decade designing womenswear at Hermès, was enlisted as creative director to help the ailing brand. The German-born designer leveraged the strength of the company’s signature ‘Intrecciato’ woven leather bags as well as its artisans and the history and culture of Italian tradition to redefine Bottega Veneta, growing revenue more than tenfold in six years. In 2018, Maier left following a 17-year run, succeeded by Daniel Lee in 2019 who, after injecting the brand with a certain newness and momentum, left abruptly in November of 2021.

Mathieu Blazy

Having worked under Lee since 2020, Mathieu Blazy’s promotion to creative director at Bottega Veneta followed a career behind the scenes of some of fashion’s greatest. Born in Paris in 1984, he was hired out of school by Raf Simons, at whose eponymous label he began his career in menswear design. Blazy then joined Maison Martin Margiela to design the ‘Artisanal’ line and the women’s ready-to-wear show, after which he became senior designer at Céline in 2014 under Phoebe Philo’s celebrated tenure, before working again with Raf Simons at Calvin Klein from 2016 to 2019.

Blazy’s lean toward art and precision has seen him pivot Bottega Veneta’s recent collections into unfussy, yet unexpected, studies in modern luxury, finding fans in the likes of Margot Robbie, Uma Thurman, Michelle Yeo, Rihanna and Jacob Elordi.

Mathieu Blazy places emphasis on craft as king

Focusing on a kind of discreet luxury and trending away from loud branding or labels of contemporaries. Handmade bucket bags are tightly woven from thick leather strapping. ‘Raffia’ shoes and bags are, in fact, realised in highly crafted leathers.

Dresses are finished with straps studded with natural pearls or crocheted in open weave and dotted with raffia ‘pom-pom’ details.

Colour palettes range from muted neutrals and seafoam to cyan blue and fire-engine red. So integral to the brand is traditional and artisanal craftsmanship that the luxury label inaugurated a school to train new generations of craftspeople. Launched in October, the ‘Accademia Labor et Ingenium’ pays homage to the brand’s founding values.

Bottega Veneta
Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2024 collection as shown in Milan © Filippo Fior/ Gorunway.com
Bottega Veneta
Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2024 collection as shown in Milan © Filippo Fior/ Gorunway.com

Bottega Veneta’s Spring-Summer 2024 collection

Bottega Veneta’s latest collection is a study on travel, both metaphorically and literally. With models crossing continents and oceans on the world map that formed the runway. Blazy’s garments are architectural – particularly in tailored pieces where a collar or a cuff might be exaggerated in proportion. Though set at unusual angles on the hanger, they drape naturally and beautifully over the body in artistic ways.

Blazy is known for his ability to surprise and innovate. Often substituting unorthodox fabrics where one might least expect. For example, for his first show for the brand, the opening look saw a model in what appeared to be a white tank top and relaxed blue jeans – a humble debut, indeed. However, the trousers were made of butter-soft leather, printed with layer upon layer of ink to give the appearance of simple blue jeans. The same, playful trompe l’oeil was applied to flannel, ribbed cotton and knit. With it, an introduction to the Blazy era of Bottega – offerings full of function and ease with an opulence known only to the wearer and those with the ability to spot it.

Bottega Veneta
Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2024 collection as shown in Milan © Filippo Fior/ Gorunway.com
Bottega Veneta
Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2024 collection as shown in Milan © Filippo Fior/ Gorunway.com

In his collection notes for Bottega’s Spring/Summer 2024 show, Blazy mused on the small wonder of dressing: the personal pleasure of being whoever and whatever you would like to be, through the simple gesture of putting on garments. He said: “It’s linked to the beauty of small marvels and natural wonders. It’s embracing something freeform: these are clothes without codes.”