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Bottega Veneta unveils first collection by new creative director Matthieu Blazy

Marianna Cerini, CNN

Updated: Mon, 28 Feb 2022 10:33:32 GMT

Source: CNN

The 'new' vision for Bottega Veneta began with a white tank top and a pair of jeans -- the first look to open the Italian label's Fall-Winter 2022 collection in one of Milan Fashion Week's most-anticipated shows.

The outfit was deceptively simple, but a closer look revealed the trousers to be actually made of leather -- specifically a printed, supple nubuck constructed to look like denim. It exuded craftsmanship, thoughtfulness, and an element of surprise. For Matthieu Blazy, it was a fitting preamble to his debut as Bottega's new creative director.

Expectations were high. Last November, news that Daniel Lee -- the British designer who had been at the helm of the heritage house since 2018 -- would be departing the brand came as something of a shock to the industry, given his hugely successful run. Lee had been credited for 'reinventing' Bottega Veneta, turning it from a quiet label into one of the most hyped names in fashion -- be it for its bags, boots, or now-iconic "Bottega Green," the signature shade he introduced across his collections.

When Blazy, who had been Lee's second-in-command and long-time collaborator, was named as his replacement, many wondered whether he could keep the momentum going -- and how he would take on an already successful formula. The Paris-born designer had kept a relatively low profile until then, despite having also worked at Raf Simons, Maison Margiela Artisanal, Cèline, and Calvin Klein.

From Saturday's event it seems like the luxury brand is still in very good hands.

Held in an old 19th century theater (Bottega Veneta's soon-to-be new headquarters), the show itself felt like an intimate, restrained affair compared to other shows from the past week. Among the guests were fewer social media influencers and more A-list celebrities, from Julianne Moore and Tracee Ellis Ross to Jacob Elordi of "Euphoria" and Maïwenn Le Besco. Anna Wintour and Edward Enninful, too, sat front row, not far from François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering (the luxury conglomerate that owns Bottega Veneta).

While it didn't veer too far off Lee's tried-and-tested aesthetic, Blazy's line proved to be a wide-ranging collection of chic, polished ensembles that evoked some of the most classic silhouettes from the fashion house's archives.

"I was ready," Blazy told CNN Style backstage after the show, referring to his transition from designer to creative director. "It has obviously been full of challenges, but this time I've really felt ready to take over this big position," he said. "I have cut my teeth on many jobs, and have been lucky to have the full support of Kering and Bottega Veneta. The essence of the brand has felt right to my approach to design."

Besides the "denim" looks, there were oversized boyfriend shirts and crombie coats, fringe-filled circle dresses and full mid-century skirts, as well as stripped down suiting for both men and women. Many of these were constructed in leather -- a clear homage to the core of Bottega Veneta, which was founded as a leather goods company.

Leatherwork also shined through the accessories. Bottega's famous intrecciato, the leather weave that has become the house signature's technique, was seen on thigh-high boots, belts and a variety of bags, including a new model, the Kalimero, worn slung over the shoulder (a potential new commercial hit for the label).

For Blazy, the label's reputation for craftsmanship is what most resonated with him for the collection. "It's something that is made by humans yet it's timeless," he said. "A universal kind of technology."

Mismatched knitwear in the form of patchwork sweaters, wool flannels and color-flecked herringbone fabric added softness and an extra layer of wearability to the collection, while delicate evening lace slips with sequins and tulle, which closed the show, gave it a touch of approachable glamour -- that will perhaps appeal to a younger generation of shoppers.

The most obvious departure from the Bottega of seasons' past was, undoubtedly, the shift away from the green. The hue wasn't completely absent -- it popped up on a couple of pairs of boots and a dress -- but it was notably pared down. In its place were navy, brown and red, but also a subtler palette of yellow, white and lavender. It was a smart move from Blazy -- and maybe the easiest way to start carving his own path at the brand, without breaking too drastically from its most recent past.

"I feel released, but still under pressure," Blazy said. "This has been the result of a long research, which is what a show should be."

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