Watching Matthieu Blazy’s sophomore show for Bottega Veneta, propped on a colorful chair by Italian design master Gaetano Pesce, was edge-of-your-seat exhilarating, one of the highlights of a Milan Fashion Week short on fashion fireworks.
And it wasn’t because Kate Moss was back on the runway, but because the clothes were pure dynamite: considered, luxurious, sophisticated and slyly inventive, always offering more than what the eye first perceived.
It took a backstage scrum to learn that the very ordinary-looking basics that opened the display, like the plaid shirt and jeans on Moss, were all made of leather. “Perverse banality,” Blazy christened these items, made of supple nubuck treated and printed to make you think you’re looking at a gray T-shirt or cotton chinos. “It’s only known by the wearer.”
Pretty much everything else in this ultra-chic collection would be noticed by everyone in the room: the glossy trapeze coat with its texture of boiling asphalt; the superbly tailored coats and jackets with an extra fin of fabric tracing the arm where it bends; the knit dresses, in busy, exotic jacquards and contrasting curtains of fringe, and the house’s woven leather boots in silver leather gleaming like chrome.
The simple addition of a frothy white under-skirt added verve to a black bouclé suit; ditto the gentle padding on coatdresses, their flap pockets extended to trace the hip line. The color combinations were beautiful: burgundy and tan for layered-up slipdresses with metal straps, and citrus shades with black, white and burnt orange for those knit dresses.
The show climaxed with three fringed numbers in searing, joyful colors, a direct homage to Pesce, who watched from the front row.
While some luxury brands roll out collections and collaborations every five minutes, we haven’t heard much from Blazy’s Bottega since his debut last February. And no wonder: It takes time, and a village of skilled artisans, to conceive and create a collection this good.
Backstage, Blazy was almost apologetic trying to explain how his own jeans, also all leather, had no stitching, and how the fringe on the finale dresses were integrated into the fabric, and then trimmed by hand. “It’s very technical. The project is not easy,” he said. “Craft — the things we can do at Bottega that no other brand can — this is our identity.”
The 400 Pesce chairs, each with a unique resin finish, some with hand drawings, echo this approach. They will go on display at Design Miami later this year and be available for purchase.