It was hardly a surprise that Bottega Veneta marked its 50th anniversary last year with dignified restraint instead of the riotous fanfare such a significant milestone usually commands.
But neither was the occasion allowed to pass quietly into the night. Last September, the formidable purveyor of stealth wealth staged a momentous show that for the first time merged men’s and women’s Spring/Summer 2017 collections. For the first time too, it showed at the historical Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. Along with the 76 looks was a 30-strong special collection of bags. “The true celebration in this 50th anniversary year is of the Bottega Veneta Atelier,” creative director Tomas Maier pointed out. “All the bags of this collection showcase the extraordinary skills of our artisans.”
These include a re-edition of the famous red clutch carried by Lauren Hutton in the movie American Gigolo. The Lauren 1980, christened in honour of the model-actress and the year of the seminal film, mirrors the design and material of the original but now comes exclusively in Gigolo Red, and a tag inside engraved with “The Lauren 1980”.
It is one of 15 archival bags refreshed for the 50th anniversary — a feat that would not have come to pass had Maier not reconstructed the archives upon his arrival at the company in 2001, a move that ensured its roots and identity. “Today, we have archives which comprises almost everything that was ever created since 1966, including sketches, bags and prototypes,” he told Prestige in an exclusive interview ahead of the presentation.
“It’s very important for our future generations too, for people who work in the company to be able to consult the archives. It is by protecting and honouring our past that we keep on growing.”
His fondness for enduring brand symbols rings true in this collection, with the evolution of the Knot, another of Bottega Veneta’s most beloved signatures.
The Knot is an oft-told story of how Maier, enamoured by a small, rounded box clutch, originally created by the house in 1978, endowed it with a closure in the shape of a small leather knot; and every season since, has elevated it with a myriad of creative reimaginings.
Such diversity is well-represented in this collection, from the understated sophistication of Knot Moiré, crafted entirely in silver and embellished with fine engravings in a moire pattern (and topped with dark gold finishing), to the so-very fancy Knot Chelsea. Its gold karung metal leather is layered over with a brass net that subtly references Bottega Veneta’s signature intrecciato motif, and exquisite floral embellishments that complement its blue-enamel jewellery for SS17.
To push the message even further, Maier has unveiled a next-gen interpretation quite unlike the Knot widely known and admired as the logo-bereft evening minaudière. With the City Knot — it is one of the 15 new bags in the other half of the collection — he takes the Knot out of after-dusk and extends it to daytime. Like its predecessor, the shoulder bag features the signature knot closure against a clean rectangular silhoutte. At 14cm x 24cm, it can fit an iPad Mini 4 in one of its three roomy compartments.
This season, you can pick from three versions, with more colours to come in the upcoming Pre-Fall line-up. Whether it’s in unadorned French calf leather, combined with leopard print, or in glossy
Capra Lissata-treated leather embossed with the Butterfly motif, the City Knot remains faithful to the materials and textures circa the 70s.
Come Pre-Fall, the Knot family will welcome another addition: The Olimpia Knot. Like the City Knot, it is a shoulder bag with adjustable handles so it can be carried from the shoulder or worn as a crossbody.
Spawned from the Olimpia bag from three years ago, this spin-off extols the timeless appeal of the original, with a Knot closure in dark burnished gold that underscores the modernity of this new edition.
By closing the disparity between evening glamour and everyday sophistication, Bottega Veneta shows it has the future in the bag.