PARIS – Bottega Veneta and Daniel Lee are parting ways.
In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, parent company Kering said the 35-year-old British designer would be leaving the brand after more than three years, during which he energized the label with seemingly ubiquitous designs including woven mules and pillowy clutches. Lee joined the house on July 1, 2018.
“Bottega Veneta and Daniel Lee are announcing their joint decision to end their collaboration,” the group said. “He brought new energy to the house and greatly contributed to the new momentum that Bottega Veneta is enjoying today.”
It did not give a reason for the decision, adding that a new creative organization for the house will be announced soon.
Lee, a relatively unknown Céline alum at the time of his nomination, took home a record four prizes at the 2019 British Fashion Awards, including designer of the year and brand of the year.
In recent seasons, he has built momentum for the brand with disruptive strategies like erasing its Instagram account and staging traveling fashion shows in locations including London, Berlin and Detroit.
“My time at Bottega Veneta has been an incredible experience. I am grateful to have worked with an exceptional and talented team and I am forever thankful to everyone who was part of creating our vision. Thank you to Francois-Henri Pinault for his support, and for the opportunity to be part of Bottega Veneta’s story,” he said in a statement.
Leo Rongone, chief executive officer of Bottega Veneta, thanked the designer for his dedication to the label in comments likely to further stoke questions about the sudden breakup.
“He provided Bottega Veneta with a fresh perspective and a new sense of modernity, while remaining respectful of the brand’s 50-year heritage. The remarkable growth of the brand over the last three years bears testimony to the success of his creative work,” he said.
In 2020, it was the only Kering brand for which breakout figures are disclosed to post growth, with sales up 4.8 percent in comparable terms despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In the third quarter of 2021, organic revenues at the house rose 8.9 percent year-on-year.
“Bottega Veneta continues to do a great job attracting new clients, with sales to younger generations growing faster than the average. At the same time, it is strengthening its appeal with existing customers, resulting in a very well-balanced client mix,” Jean-Marc Duplaix, chief financial officer of Kering, said at the time.
“Bottega Veneta is demonstrating quarter after quarter the success of our strategy as it expands the house’s territory, tightens its exclusivity and turns into a truly global luxury brand,” he added.
François-Henri Pinault, chairman and ceo of Kering, thanked Lee for his passion and energy. “His singular vision made the house’s heritage relevant for today and put it back to the center of the fashion scene. I would like to personally thank him for the unique chapter that he has written in the long history of Bottega Veneta,” he said.
A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Lee was previously director of ready-to-wear at Céline, owned by rival conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. This followed earlier stints at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan. He succeeded Tomas Maier, who helped shape and elevate Bottega Veneta for 17 years.