Up until today, Bottega Veneta has kept a relatively low profile in the last year. Creative director Tomas Maier, who helmed the brand for 17 years before leaving in June, maintained an enduring aesthetic during his tenure. So, naturally, when Daniel Lee took over in June after a 5-year stint as Céline’s director of ready-to-wear under Phoebe Philo, people were unsure of what to expect. What contribution would Lee make to Bottega? Would he just copy the work he did at Céline? Would he pay homage to the brand’s history? Today, he presented his first official collection for Bottega Veneta for the Pre-Fall 2019 season, and it turns out he might just be the antidote to all of the hemming and hawing over Hedi Slimane’s creative (mis)direction at Celine.
Photo: Courtesy of Bottega Veneta
Under Maier, Bottega’s thousands-of-dollars leather handbags and wares were widely considered too “adult” (in price and style) to have any mass appeal to the younger fashion set. But, Lee’s inaugural collection (which, Business of Fashion compared to “Old Céline”) challenges that notion, not so much in price as in style.
The co-ed collection is simple in terms of silhouettes, but in a way that makes you notice all of the little details, like statement buttons and clasps, and the top notch tailoring. It’s also worth noting that, like a true Philo-phile, Lee designed pretty much everything in a palette of neutral colors. You won’t find any neon green, but you will find a rich offering of camels, blacks, whites, grays and bursts of yellow here and there.
As Vogue Runway critic Sarah Mower notes in her review of Lee’s collection, it’s too soon to tell if this is a “star is born” situation, but we are looking forward to seeing which direction he takes the once-sleepy brand.