A carnival with culture, class and artistic clout in Saturday night’s show by Bottega Veneta, the absolutely one and only must see show in Milan these days.
A gathering of hyper individualistic looks, worn by a polyglot cast – many of them non-professional models. All presented with elegant zest on a runway which included rare Italian statues. Boccioni’s famous dashing figure Unique Forms of Continuity in Space and two bronze 1st-century BC statues of running youths.
Above all, a visual debate by BV’s creative director Matthieu Blazy about what constitutes power dressing in a moment when the greatest era of the power suit, the 90s, are back in force in fashion.
“I love the idea of a carnival, people walking in the same direction. You don’t know where they go, but they walk together,” explained Bottega Veneta’s cerebral designer Matthieu Blazy.
The result was a strikingly disparate selection of clothes, many of them made with remarkable techniques. Though beginning with elegantly simple white shapes – lingerie dresses or gentlemanly shirt dresses for both men and women in this co-ed show.
Many shirt jackets, peacoats or Mao jackets looking like wool or cotton, but made of super shaven, uber lightweight leather. All the way to some beautiful cable neck sweaters, again made in an intreccio leather technique.
Blazy also loves an insider joke, like his gents’ socks, which on closer inspection were made woven leather and finished with soles.
The heart of the matter, however, was the best selection of coats this season – huge spy coats in Bladerunner-worthy black leather; gents’ town-coats in faux alligator or mohair cashmere dressing gowns for men. For ladies, rusty stamped snakeskin trenches; volume rawhide coats and a stunning gray coat that seemed to unfurl before the eyes.
Featuring tailoring – like futurism – that felt aerodynamic, yet also more layered in a very Italian way. Astounding craft skills – a green jacket that looked like grass that was woven and not re-embroidered, integrating the technique into the garment itself.
“Making this collection, we asked ourselves, ‘what is chic?’ When do we start to be chic? Is it when you are wearing a costume, or wearing something almost costume like? Maybe the suit is no longer power dressing. Yet also recognizing that when kids wear a suit, they feel empowered,” mused Blazy in a packed backstage. Always a sign when a designer is hot, two score of editors held out iPhones to hear his opinion.
Backed up by the global sounds of parades –samba, African, Belgium carnivals and marching bands – the cast wove around the two statues.
“I love those statues and wanted to invite them to the parade. The idea is to reconnect Italy through its history. There is a lot of politics here today. And our idea was positive nationalism. That you can reappropriate your history by claiming it in a positive way, and not being negative,” explained the Belgium-born designer.
Who, every so often showed something subversive – like a series of ribbed pullovers for men, so long they reached to the ankle.
For evening, there was a brilliant array of dress shapes – halter necks, junipers, shirts dresses, poufs and ball gowns – again in feather light leathers.
Practically every model carried a bag, many of them had two. From super intreccio bucket shaped totes, to a pair of there-foot-wide oval handbags, shaped like elliptical sound speakers. All the way to the finale, an Asian model wearing a white tank top and blue leather jeans, just like in Blazy’s debut BV show in February 2022.
“Our first three shows were about Italy, so this felt like closing a chapter. We are all surrounded by the same news, so the first answer is togetherness. Like at a concert, or village party or a parade. It’s uplifting. And every generation is there,” concluded Blazy, after staging Mila Fashion Week’s most memorable collection, for the second season in a row.
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