Sunday 23rd February

| BY Claudia Croft

Bottega Veneta: Ready-to-wear AW20

Our driver nearly lost his license getting us to the Bottega Veneta show – such is the not-to-be-missed urgency of fashion’s hottest ticket. Blink and the season’s most crucial silhouette could pass you by. Bottega is white hot right now. Daniel Lee with an unprecedented four (yes four!) Fashion Awards scooped in one evening, is fashion’s man of the moment. Which, given the fickleness of the industry, is a nice way of saying the only way is down. Luckily for Lee (you could call it luck, but I call it design talent), that was not the AW20 story. The power of his vision has phenomenal momentum. Never knew you fancied lavish fringing? You do now. Neon? Who cares? You do. Passionately. Especially when the cuffs of a neon yellow shirt poke out beneath a black Trinity-from-the-Matrix three button trouser suit.

Another pressing question: Did you seriously consider jumper dressing until Daniel Lee started making the most interesting knits on the catwalk? Now all you can think about is the slinky high-necked, black, knit maxi dress that moved like a dream along his stark catwalk which was built to resemble a modernist cloister. Movement was a theme for this show. Lee had three ballet dancers (Royal Ballet principles, Francesca Hayward, Roberto Bolle and Cesar Corrales)) in his front row. If some of the pieces in his previous collections erred on the sculptural, this show was about suppleness, softness and fluidity. A glorious, flared catsuit, feathered orange dancing dress or a shearling coat with a shredded fringe at the hem all could have been worn by a latter day Martha Graham. It was bold, expressive, vivid (those neons!); and contradictory. Lee paired the most supple of dresses with rubber galoshes. Aprés ski? Aprés fashion.

The men’s was all about narrow nineties tailoring and a new kind bodycon, with some looks cinched at the back with suspender clips. Accessories? How about a plaited clutch with a lavish leather fringe or a neon knitted satchel? Fringing and ugly brights are now a major part of the fashion conversation and Cuban-heeled boots are the new quilted mules. Bootcut jeans (covered in crystals) also came in from the cold. This show moved the taste making dial. You know it’s good when you realise nothing will ever be the same again.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.