is the new bottega veneta the old céline?
Dive into the first collection from Daniel Lee, the ex-Céline designer revitalising Bottega Veneta.
Courtesy Bottega Veneta
Fans of ‘Old Celine’, Rejoice! Your saviour has arrived and his name is Daniel Lee. The 32-year-old English creative director of Bottega Veneta joined the Italian brand earlier this year. However, what makes his appointment so prescient is that he joined from Céline (now Celine) where he was Phoebe Philo’s protégé. It’s no secret that swathes of women and a fair few men have been suffering from PPSD (Post-Philo Stress Disorder) since Philo was replaced by Hedi Slimane. Hence why Lee’s debut collection has struck a nerve with ardent followers of @OldCeline. Yet while it was only to be expected that he would bring the discreet-chic, thoughtfully-designed, ugly-yet-elegant aesthetic of his former employer to his new gig, he also moved things forward.
Bottega Veneta, after all, is built on leather craftsmanship (accessories are the bread and butter) and there’s menswear, too. Lee followed in the footsteps of Thomas Maier, who ushered in an era of stealth-wealth luxury at Bottega (think satin intrecciato minaudieres, double-faced cashmere coats, feather-light blouses). It was time for a rebrand, which is why Bottega’s owner Kering opted for this largely unknown Central Saint Martins graduate.
Like Phoebe, Daniel is all about the clothes. That house-staple intrecciato is blown up, with giant, Mary Poppins-sized bags contrasting with streamlined high-waisted tailoring and suit of sharp A-line skirts. There’s a caramel silk-cuffed camel coat with a men’s chest pocket and handkerchief square detail; a multitude of quilted marshmallowy leather skirts; a perfectly oversized shearling pea coat; scooped collars lined with jewel-toned silk. Shoes were awkwardly-rounded pumps and leather fishnet stilettos with gold anklets. Colours were straight out of a modernist Milanese apartment: cordovan, espresso, amber and oxblood. The Italian brand described the clothes as “generous, warm and kind — tenderly hugging the body, protecting.”
But wait a minute. There was a Trojan Horse: the menswear. While everyone thought Lee would be offering up a wardrobe exclusively for women, and letting the men’s centre around classic (if not boring) tailoring — he designed a collection of truly refreshing menswear that was all about proportion. There was elongated tailoring with super-slouchy wide legs, sinuous scooped-neck knits, roomy cashmere turtlenecks with sheer-chiffon panels. There’s even an incredibly chic sneaker with woven cobalt lacing.
A Star is Born! Now it’s only a matter of weeks until we see Lee's vision in motion, with his official debut show during Milan Fashion Week. Let’s hope it’s as good as this.