For his Pre-Fall 2019 collection for Bottega Veneta, his first after becoming creative director, Daniel Lee teased his new vision for the Italian house: at once sensual and subversive, it mined Bottega’s esteemed archive but set it on a resolute new course. It wasn’t, however, until his runway debut, Autumn/Winter 2019, that the full extent of his transformative vision for the house was revealed. While honouring Bottega’s heritage and sense of craftsmanship, the bold, tough collection made clear that this new chapter in the brand’s history was his for the writing.
Among the 45 looks, highlights included the leather garments, of which the house has long been famed – a tank dress, quilted skirts and jackets, and nods to motocross gear, for example. They demonstrated expert use of the house’s storied ateliers while suggesting an undercurrent of sensuality – even kink – an energy that few had associated with Bottega until now. Ribbed knits clung to their wearers, offset by clodhopper Chelsea boots and square-shouldered wool coats, while the intrecciato weave was remade in supersized proportions. Executed to levels of eye-watering luxury, discreet without ever being dull, Lee’s proposal for Bottega has opened the house to a whole new fashion-attuned clientele. We spoke to some of them to find out why they love Daniel Lee’s new Bottega Veneta.
Agata Belcen, Senior Fashion Editor, AnOther Magazine
“I wasn’t much of a Bottega Veneta customer before, but Daniel Lee’s debut collection caught my eye: the slightly awkward fit; the combination of heaviness and lightness; that there were big clumpy boots with chic gold jewellery. It’s refined but not uptight. It’s also very sexy, but in the same way as when you can feel the sun on your skin and want to take your clothes off because it feels good, rather than it simply being a performance of sexy.
“I think he’s succeeded in marrying the codes of Bottega with his particular twist. The intrecciato is still there, for example, but blown up. So is the very luxurious fabrication, but it’s made more wearable on a day-to-day basis. It’s relevant to a younger generation, a customer that can imagine themselves wearing it in their ideal lives – at work, on an island holiday, out dancing – it appeals to a sense of how they’d like to live.
“And he’s made it feel very physical. And I have a physical reaction to it – I want it. I especially love the jewellery and the shoes. And the sequin pieces, too.”
Natalie Kingham, Fashion and Buying Director, Matches Fashion
“Bottega Veneta has always resonated with our customer for its impressive heritage and elevated aesthetic, together with the brand’s exquisite sense of craftsmanship. What’s exciting about Daniel Lee taking the reigns is that he is collaborating with a talented team, bringing a fresh perspective to the house and engaging with a new, younger audience in addition to the longstanding fans of the brand.
“Our customers have always been engaged with a polished, minimalistic aesthetic – pieces that will work across the seasons, and work from the office to the event in a more luxurious and refined way. We call one of the female customer muses we buy for ‘the purist’. We’ve also noticed a younger customer embracing the collection and investing in the footwear, bags and jewellery as they understand the collection has longevity. The coats and blazers are also beautiful.
“This collection wasn’t the first we’d seen of Daniel’s work for Bottega Veneta, though. We actually saw a pre-pre collection and started to see his influence coming through then. The momentum has continued and when we first saw his work for A/W19, we were very excited. The conversation started quite quickly about collaborating. We worked with Daniel and the team on an exclusive capsule collection which launched in September with an installation in 5 Carlos Place. The project celebrated Daniel Lee’s first runway collection and was the perfect way to launch the capsule of A/W19 exclusive pieces, which incorporated key runway styles in a beautiful cream and brown colourway which is perfect for the season.”
Laura Hawkins, Fashion and Jewellery News Editor, Wallpaper* Magazine
“I wasn’t previously a Bottega Veneta customer, but I was really taken in by Daniel Lee’s ability to subvert prior understandings of what the brand was with his A/W19 collection. It’s quite a similar situation to what we saw at Gucci: there’s been a total transformation and a new customer has emerged. He draws upon the codes of the house but flips them on their head. With the intrecciato weave, for example, he exaggerates it, turning it into something truly modern and hyperbolic. And then there are these very bourgeois silhouettes that have a such a sexy, unusual quality to them. A classic lace dress is oversized, a hemline is a little longer than you’d expect, or a ribbed jumper is a bit tighter than usual.
“There’s also a dark, sexy edge, particularly in the way he plays with leather, hardware and jewellery. I recently got the black almond pumps; they’re so comfy and timeless – you can wear them with literally anything. They have a flair of kink to them, as the almond toe exposes the top of your foot. At the same time, they have this very vintage, ‘Italian grandma’-ish comma heel, which is a particularly conservative touch. They’re simultaneously kinky, sexy, and very staid. I’m also desperate for the quilted pumps. I love that they’re padded, puffy, and have this rather ugly square toe – they’re really quite bizarre! They’re very flattering on the foot, as they’re so big that they slim the leg and ankle, but they’re also so bulbous... there’s a sense of a push and pull in what makes them attractive.
“I think it’s that oddity and subversiveness that’s given Daniel Lee’s Bottega Veneta such a cultish appeal among younger customers. Still, it’s interesting that he’s respected the house’s focus on heritage and tradition while making it his own thing. I don’t think a Tomas Maier customer, for example, could say that he’s been sacrilegious in any respect.”
James Campbell, Fashion and Market Editor, Another Man
“Daniel Lee’s A/W19 collection for Bottega Veneta has come at just the right time, when we’re seeing a turn away from sportswear to evening- and formalwear, albeit with a younger, more relaxed feel. His silhouette feels elegant without being too uptight; it has that Phoebe Philo signature, which is obviously part of his heritage already, and you can see elements from the other houses he’s worked at, like Donna Karan, Margiela and Balenciaga, coming through in his signature too.
“When I shot a Bottega Veneta special for Another Man, I was really pleased to see the quality of the samples, particularly where the accessories were concerned. When he was design director of the womenswear ready-to-wear studio at Celine, he wasn’t in charge of accessories, but he’s nonetheless done a great job of blending his style with the house’s codes and craftsmanship.
“He has a minimal approach that still says something: I think that’s quite key to what makes Lee’s Bottega appeal to a younger, fashion-forward man. It all comes down to the details, and I think that, as a man, when you’re dressing it’s typically quite wardrobe-based. Some of the collection’s incredible coats and jackets are things that you could still be wearing ten years on, as the materials and details ensure that it doesn’t feel dated. Particular highlights for me include those tall, exaggerated Chelsea boots, for sure – it feels like every boy is already wearing them – and I also loved the sunglasses. Ultimately, I think he’s made the brand more accessible – not in terms of price point, but rather in terms of style. He’s made clothes for people who don’t want to look so uptight, who want to look cool when they wear something, but still look elegant.”
Hair: Olivier Schawalder at Bryant Artists using Oribe. Make-up: Cécile Paravina at Bryant Artists using Nars. Model: Amanda Murphy at IMG. Casting: Noah Shelley at Streeters. Manicure: Typhaine Kersual at Artists Unit. Photographic assistants: Peter Keyser and Foucault de Kergorlay. Styling assistants: Rebecca Perlmutar and Abby Adler. Producer: Zoé Martin at Producing Love. Production manager: Mona Perron at Producing Love. Production assistant: Mathieu Berrou at Producing Love.
These photographs originally featured in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale now.