After a three year tenure at Italian house Bottega Veneta, where he flipped the brand on its head, creative director Daniel Lee will be exiting the brand according to Kering, who released the news this morning, Thursday 11 November, calling the surprising move a "joint decision".
Lee has been at the helm of the brand since 2018, and after previously working closely under Phoebe Philo at Céline, he swiftly patched the gap she left in her wake with his logo-free-luxury approach, and understated sex-appeal.
It was a recognisable reign. With viral handbag silhouettes and an astronomical spike in sales while the rest of the luxury market struggled through the worst of the pandemic, Lee has been riding a modern wave that truly shook the previously deflated brand up. There was novelty and newness again, and the industry drank it down like ade.
While the reason for his departure is unknown, and Kering has declined to divulge, Lee noted: “My time at Bottega Veneta has been an incredible experience,” he said in a statement. “I am grateful to have worked with an exceptional and talented team and I am forever thankful to everyone who was part of creating our vision.”
Kering chairman François-Henri Pinault thanked Lee for his “singular vision” that “made the house’s heritage relevant for today and put it back to the centre of the fashion scene.”
With few hints regarding what Lee will do next, it is unclear what his next move will be within the industry. Will he take cues from his old mentor Philo and retreat to the shadows for a few years only to reemerge with his own label, or has his impact with Bottega Veneta opened greater doors for the young designer?
It will be a blow for dedicated fans, who were mopping up tears over "old Céline" with the intrecciato weave of "new Bottega" and it's "it" impact. It was there from the beginning. The first collection tight as ever, a clear brand identity emerged for the previously murky Bottega Veneta, which had somehow lost its way over the years. It was the acid green that is so synonymous – today and since it was first introduced – with Lee's reign, the squared off heels with track soles, the pouch bag. Lee claimed the space at admirable speed, and the fashion world followed suit with an unprecedented wave of fresh loyalty. Even after he made the decision to wipe the brands social media clean and close the doors to his runways shows, Lee knew that the loyalists would do most of the heavy lifting for him, and they did.
Before Bottega, Lee was a behind-the-scenes man and right hand to Phoebe Philo (and previously Donna Karan). A Yorkshire man from birth, he was poached for his role at Bottega Veneta when he was just 32, and post-his 2.2 percent sales increase for the brand, he swiftly took home prizes for Designer of the Year, British Designer of the Year, Accessories Designer of the Year, and Brand of the Year at once just one year into his tenure at the BFC’s Fashion Awards in 2019.
We'll be watching closely to find out who will fill his puddle-shaped shoes in the near future, as well as keeping tabs on Lee's next move.