Bottega Veneta Fall 2020. Milan, Italy
Ravey, biodegradable Wellington boots are not something you’d traditionally associate with Italian master craftsmen Bottega Veneta, but here we are, a year into creative director Daniel Lee’s much-publicized revolution, where the unexpected is fast becoming the norm. On the streets, people panicked and donned surgical masks as fear of coronavirus gripped Milan. Inside, a live cello and violin duo played achingly pretty music while Greek ionic columns and lemon trees were projected onto white screens. They say fashion has the power to transport you places, but perhaps the conceit has never applied so literally.
Given its august history, even the idea of attending a Bottega Veneta show can feel intimidating (looking around at the ladies clutching "it" bags that literally cost three times as much as my monthly rent will never not promote internal existential angst), but the eclectic makeup of the audience — young and old, seemingly from all walks — is testament to Lee’s work as an egalitarian force. Similar to Jonathan Anderson at Loewe, the young Brit, quite simply, has made this previously staid house cool again. The proof isn’t in the pudding — it’s the fact Dev Hynes is taking photos in the front row.
As for the clothing itself? Well, there’s plenty to unpack. If Bottega Veneta was a sportsperson, at least historically, it would be Roger Federer — pure and utter class, sometimes to the point of stuffy. Like tennis, the lofty price points render it inaccessible to most people, and so it exists to be appreciated through a screen rather than witnessed (or worn) in real life. Still, how beautiful it is to marvel! This time, however, it wasn’t just a cavalcade of vaunted couture that came down the runway. In amongst the sequin dresses and lavish accessories (the new clutch that kinda looked like a furry jellyfish had people in the front row gasping), there were elements of neon, tech, and sportswear, not to mention a lascivious dollop of rock and roll (check out Kaia Gerber in the flared pants). High fashion, carried out with a non-patronizing nod to the streets.
Previously one of the weakest players in the Kering stable, Bottega Veneta's menswear is now a powerhouse to be reckoned with, evidenced by the fact the show opened with two men's looks. This time last year, some observers leveled criticism at Lee for what they perceived as good ideas that were clumsily executed. Here, there was a sense that he had found his groove. This is just the beginning.
Highsnobiety Shopping List
Sweet and tender hooligan
Is that ANOTHER cummerbund I spy? And look how elegant that lacy shirt is! Daniel Lee, the most sensitive aesthete to come out of Northern England since Morrissey.
Finish him... with unrivaled steeze
Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat has retired from fighting. He now walks around the streets of Milan in this intrecciato weave ninja costume, begging street style photographers to take photos of him.
Keep a gold [pendant] on my [jacket]
Gold adornments on clothing has always been, in my eyes, a bit of a dickhead move. But this trench coat looks great! Still wouldn’t wear it, though.
Rock and Roll Star
Your pals have just started a new indie band and have somehow convinced Kaia Gerber to play the bass. Not sure how she’ll manage with those oversized cuffs.