It's a classic catch 22. With so many designers trying to stand out from the crowd, it tends to have the opposite effect. Moments tailored for virality are numbing. The things that cut through? Matthieu Blazy's Bottega Veneta, which for its Fall Winter 2023 presentation, proved that you can take all the air out of a room with intentional and wearable design. And is there anything else we'd rather be wearing right now than leather?
For the final chapter in Blazy's Italia trilogy, the creative director extended his fixation on craft in motion. Given it's Bottega Veneta, this was achieved through reimagining leather, shaved and weightless to emphasise momentum, while musing on Italy's influence on design from a global and historical perspective. The memorable mock opening looks from the previous two shows are reintroduced in the show finale, a hero's journey comes full circle. But for the subsequent 79 looks, Blazy looked to the randomness of people on the street.
“I loved the idea of the parade in Italy," the creative director said in a press release. "A procession, a strange carnival, a crowd of people from anywhere and everywhere and yet somehow, they all fit and go in the same direction. I wanted to look at what makes people gather together in a place without hierarchy, where everyone is invited.”
Each look was vastly different from the next, yet all these individual archetypes fit together like pieces to a puzzle, the many voices that create a crowd. There was the siren, in a gown with a sweeping swollen neckline and a mermaid's V-shaped waist. The femme fatale wore 80s hair and merlot red. Vittoria Ceretti walked out in layers of hand-embroidered cotton with bulbous heels that imitated Murano glass. While Emma Balfour exited in an ostrich-leather overshirt, warming us up to the texture.
The runway was ensconced by a cast of Italian sculptures and design artifacts that furthered the odyssey metaphor, of Italy and its people passing through time. There was Umberto Boccioni's futuristic 1913 bronce, Unique Forms of Continuity of Space and a set of Corridori – two bronze Herculaneum runners. Elsewhere, rows of Gio Ponti's Superleggera chairs stood alongside Achille & Pier Giacomo Castiglioni's iconic Luminator Floor Lamp. The flecked carpet was an homage to Italian terrazzo, and to mint chocolate chip gelato.
A knock-out collection from Bottega Veneta means knock-out bags. Undoubtedly, the hero was the Sardine Bag with its Murano glass handles, but that doesn't mean we don't have room in our dreams for the dense intrecciato weaving on the Tosca, the knotty Kalimero bucket or the slouchy Veneta hobo – even the more modest paper bag-inspired brown tote holds space in our hearts. A compartment that sits right next to our adoration for this collection.