It's Official: Bottega Veneta Is The Coolest Brand In The World Right Now
Since his appointment in June 2018, Bottega Veneta’s nascent creative director Daniel Lee has slowly been defining a new set of design codes for the Venetian leather goods brand, which was founded in 1966.
And though he continues to remain true to Bottega's famed mantra, "When your own initials are enough", by producing clothes that whisper luxury rather than scream it, he's also embossed his own, very specific mark on the Kering-owned label.
Lee's AW20 collection, for instance – which is in stores now – is a super-slick symphony of stealthily luxurious pieces: such as oversized Cabat shoppers in an expanded take on the label's woven Intrecciato leather and immaculately tailored mohair great coats.
But making expensive clothes is something most fashion designers are capable of, so what's Lee doing so differently?
With his SS20 collection, shown in Milan last month, he proved he not only understands how to create garments that people really want to wear (word has it that the world's biggest retailers struggle to keep key pieces in stock for more than a few days), but he also has an uncanny ability to manufacture "cool".
Which – much like making nice clothes – might sound simple, but in truth is something surprisingly few creative directors are capable of doing successfully. There's Hedi Slimane at Celine, of course, who could make a pedal bin liner fly off the shelves by putting it on the back of the right street-cast boy. And then there's Kim Jones at Dior, who has an unsurpassed ability to build a halo of hip by way of clever collaborations.
Lee, on the other hand, has managed that rare trick of making clothes that are achingly edgy in and of themselves. Sure, the wraparound bovver bombers, oversized trench coats and fine, calf-leather gym shorts he sent down the runway yesterday looked particularly good on the sylphlike models who stalked them; but head into Bottega Veneta's stores and get up close and personal with the garments themselves and it's easy to see that that desirability – that vaporous x-factor that so quickly dissipates once the rigging around the catwalk has been dismantled – has been imbued directly into the pieces like oxygen into a lung.
I recently tried on a pair of the brand's heavyweight grain de poudre trousers and the way the hems concealed my cankles and the architectural waist covered my dad tum made me finally understand how Tilda Swinton must feel when she wears a Haider Ackermann dress on the red carpet. I felt sculptural and strong, bold and brilliant.
Likewise, a pair of the brand's heavy duty bovver boots – which I recently wore to a friend's 40th birthday party – made me feel powerful and in charge, despite the fact that they added an extra four inches to my already sequoia-like frame.
The point is that what Lee – a 32-year-old Yorkshire lad with previous at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Celine – is doing at Bottega is exciting and fresh. It's unburdened by the past, yet respectful of it too. What's more, he makes clothes that feel entirely worth the money you're paying for them – important when you've shelled out $1055 on a pair of trousers simply because they make you feel like a 58-year-old Scottish woman in a dress.
"Spring 2020 evolves the codes we are building at Bottega Veneta. Our focus is on process and clarity; immediate and direct," Lee said after the show yesterday. "Bottega Veneta is about the individual. It's for you."
Here, GQ picks the key Bottega Veneta pieces tiding him over until the SS20 collection hits the stores.
1. The coat
£$6555 at bottegaveneta.com
2. The boots
$1105 at bottegaveneta.com
3. The trousers
$1055 at bottegaveneta.com