daniel lee’s bottega veneta debut was more berghain than old céline

In the most hyped show debut of autumn/winter 19, Daniel Lee celebrated freedom, self-expression and sensuality at Bottega Veneta.

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Feb 22 2019, 10:19pm

After presenting one of the most talked about debut offerings of 2018 with his pre-fall 18 collection, the ex-Céline designer Daniel Lee used his first catwalk show to step out of his former house’s shadows as he invited the industry to further experience his new Bottega Veneta dawn.

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Is the new Bottega Veneta the Old Céline?” we asked following the release of Phoebe Philo-protege Daniel Lee’s Bottega Veneta debut collection last year. The British-born, 32-year-old former director of ready-to-wear at Céline’s impressive CV includes aesthetic shaping experience at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan but it’s his seven years working with Phoebe Philo that has been the key talking point since his appointment.

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Understandable so. Against the backdrop of Hedi Slimane’s accent-free,skinny suitedCeline revolution, swathes of women and more than a few men needed a fresh hit of the discrete-chic, thoughtfully-designed, ugly-yet-elegant aesthetic and Bottega Veneta pre-fall provided it. But it wasn’t “Old Celine”, it was New Bottega Veneta, sensual, streamlined, and seductively simple. For his debut show, he pushed his new house further into the future.

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Inside a sun-baked glasshouse erected in front of the Arco della Pace, a historic gate of Milan, Lee served up a collection that was more Beghain now than “Old Celine”. His pre-fall collection was the gateway drug for us all, Philophiles included, to get hooked on this, his harder stuff. In an interview with Vogue late last year, he described his new home as a "bit of a sleeping giant". Well, today he woke it up.

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While sensitive to the quiet craft that has long been central to the luxury house’s identity, Lee took this opportunity to add energy, modernity and technology to traditional technique as he turned the dial up on volume and attitude. “Ultimately, the aim of this season’s collection is a simple one, to evoke emotion -- pleasure and joy, desire and beauty,” explained the show notes. There was plenty to fall in love with here -- the sculpted suit, worn with a ruffled black silk blouse and a sleek envelope clutch, the chic kitten heel courts and the wool coats -- but Lee widened up his world. From the opening neckline-baring leather dress through to the dancefloor-ready shimmering shirting, the exaggerated sharp shoulder tailoring through to the elongated arm knitwear, Lee played with proportion, expectation. Ever since the rise of streetwear into high fashion, we’ve questioned what modern luxury could and should be. Today’s Bottega Veneta encapsulated the tensions between the modern and the traditional, the high and the low, the natural and the man-made, the hedonistic and the intellectual. Now, let’s forget old Céline and move towards new Bottega Veneta.

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.