Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2024 collection fashion show at Milano Fashion Week SS24 (September 23, 2023).
In less than two years, Matthieu Blazy has injected Bottega Veneta with an entirely unique design vision marked by creativity, narrative, meticulous craftsmanship, and theatricality. His spring show was not just compelling, but also transporting and often mesmerizing—a level of energy in Milan rivaled perhaps only by Prada.
Upon entering the show space, one was immediately struck by the bright blue ceramic-tiled floor, reminiscent of a seafood shop or a swimming pool. Printed on this vibrant canvas was a whimsical world map, along with an assortment of fish, birds, and even the designer's pet dog.
After a trilogy of collections rooted in Italy, Blazy cast his imaginative net wider, drawing inspiration from a line in one of his cherished books, Jack Kerouac's "On the Road": "Are you going somewhere? Or are you just going?"
"That line is very beautiful because it opens a world of possibilities. And maybe the collection is the answer to that question," Blazy pondered during a preview in his studio.
Post-pandemic, the longing for travel has become palpable, whether to explore new cultures or to discover diverse landscapes, plants, and wildlife.
Blazy's cultural references in this collection were deliberately diffuse, avoiding specificity to sidestep charges of cultural appropriation. He firmly believes that culture, art, and craftsmanship belong to the world. For instance, he stretched Bottega's signature Intrecciata technique into new realms, having artisans employ leather strips dyed and treated to authentically replicate the appearance and texture of banana leaves—a material used across Asia, South America, and Southeast Asia.
Blazy also sought to celebrate the marvels of nature. He pointed out during the preview how his fringed leather tops and cocoon coats resembled cacti or exotic blooming flowers when turned upside down. About two-thirds into the show, feather-like fringe adornments graced bubble-shaped skirts and bustier dresses, evoking images of exotic birds. Some sandals even appeared as though crafted from vines that naturally entwined around the foot.
Without prior knowledge of the collection's narrative, one could still discern the characters and creatures woven into the fabric: the castaway in a simple T-shirt or black swimsuit, the sailor with button-front pants and a substantial rucksack, the business commuter in pinstriped knitwear, and the nomads clad in elegantly tailored blankets.
Blazy's approach to embellishment is firmly rooted in savoir-faire rather than showiness, a perfect match for Bottega Veneta's aesthetic. However, some rustic sweaters and oversized leather coats, fashioned to resemble tweed, herringbone, or spiky fur, occasionally felt too weighty for a spring collection. Blazy scaled up peacoats and overcoats for men and experimented with expansive, firework-like bursts of raffia on the mesh dresses that concluded the show.
Yet, practicality took a backseat to the exhilarating fashion thrills delivered by this blockbuster show.
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