Photograph Courtesy of Bottega Veneta
When Daniel Lee was named creative director of Bottega Veneta last summer. it stoked much curiosity among the fashion set. Few had heard of the British designer, then 32 years old, and his absence from social media didn’t help fill in the blanks. Lee’s résumé, however, gave cause for optimism, particularly his six-year stint at Céline under Phoebe Philo, where he eventually became director of ready-to-wear.
Upon beginning his tenure at Bottega Veneta, Lee resisted the urge to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Instead, he decided to dig deeper into the luxury brand’s storied roots in leather craftsmanship and understated designs. And, of course, Italy. The brand was founded in the northeastern city of Vicenza in 1966—and its atelier still remains there today, in a renovated 18th-century palazzo on picturesque grounds.
Though Lee hails from northern England, he quickly became fascinated by Italian culture. While designing his debut collection, he immersed himself in Italian cinema with films by Federico Fellini, Lucino Visconti and Pier Paolo Pasolini and discovered an earthly and unfussy elegance in the costumes. His mood boards were rife with images of Monica Vitti and Isabella Rossellini, rounded out with photographs of an insouciant Mick Jagger smoking a cigarette and Neneh Cherry in a slip dress, with a lace bra peeking out—a nod to the country’s innate sensuality, which has yet to be explored in the brand’s oeuvre.
The resulting pre-fall collection, now available in our new shop on the Sixth Floor, translates Lee’s various inspirations into wardrobe staples with a modern twist. Trench coats are reimagined in unexpected fabrics, like raw linen and textured cotton with quilted satin detail. Sharply tailored overcoats and suiting are accented with panels of silk duchesse satin. And, as a tribute to the brand’s heritage, Lee has amplified Bottega Veneta’s expertise in leather with ready-to-wear; his favorites include a biker jacket in sleek calfskin, a shirt dress in punched lambskin and A-line skirts in quilted nappa.
Despite being historically logo-averse (an impressive feat considering fashion’s current fixation), Bottega Veneta is not without its signatures. Lee is making his own mark that, like the brand’s instantly recognizable intrecciato weave, act like a secret signal to the cognoscenti. Back pockets are made with V-shaped stitching and a flat workwear loop, while tailored pieces feature a folded triangle of fabric at the chest pocket, as if the lining had accidentally spilled out. The handbags are also logo-free. Instead, Lee has focused on creating thoroughly distinctive hardware for each style, inspired by the exquisite metal fixtures of Milanese palazzi.
Much like his new designs, there is something refreshing about the mystery of Daniel Lee. And his sharp and refined artistic eye may be just what fashion needs right now.
Shop our Bottega Veneta picks below online at BG.com and in store on the Sixth Floor.