Thursday 13th December

| BY Claudia Croft

Bottega Veneta: Pre-Fall 2019

And so to Milan where Bottega Veneta gave its first tantalising glimpse of Daniel Lee’s vision for the house, with a low key presentation of its Pre-Fall 19 collection. This design equivalent of a soft launch was held in an exhibition space next to Milan’s technology museum, where guests were treated to a lunch of risotto Milanese before being invited to take a closer look at the Lee’s debut men’s and women’s collections. The designer himself was not present. Instead, colleagues from the design team were on hand to answer any questions. These Bottega bods explained Lee’s approach: Take familiar classics like the trench, parka and tuxedo, perfect their silhouette and then transform them into something else – something far more interesting.

A leather shift came with a deep scoop neck and was designed to be worn over a luscious silk high necked dress. A tailored jacket was scooped away at the front to give it an unfamiliar look. Trousers – in laser cut leather, linen or satin followed the classic 501 silhouette and were designed to be worn with matching shirts in a new take on co-ords.

Craft and modernity are happy bedfellows at Lee’s new Bottega (one of his key hires is a fabric technologist), so the quilting on a leather skirt was made with lasers and not stitching, knits were bonded at the seams and capes and parkas were made from high-tech waterproof leather. Practicality and ease are touchstones. The looped pockets of workwear cropped up on refined pieces and unusual layering was a big theme. Sporty parkas were put under formal tailored coats or paired with with sensual silks. Fabric nerds take note, the new Bottega is ultra-tactile. Lee has overhauled every category from shoes (woven leather courts with midi heels, their exaggerated square toed silhouette would appeal to Mini Mouse) to jewellery (zirconia-encrusted chunky chains).

As for the bags, there was plenty to get excited about from the ostentatious proportion of Lee’s new oversized totes to Insta-friendly shoppers in macro versions of the house’s signature weave, squishy clutches and pleasing bucket bags laden with brass hardware. Lee’s new Bottega is younger in attitude, confident and styled up for the 21st century. A former Céline alumnus, this Brit is out to prove he is a modern taste maker. Meanwhile, sophisticated women craving their fix of #OldCéline have something new to obsess about. Bring on his first full runway show in February. Lee is the man to watch.