Bottega Veneta’s choices for its next creative direction: telling?

Milan’s fashion elite began expecting the other shoe to drop when the Italian house sent out a glossy shoot on its Instagram with a caption reading “True to Bottega Veneta, true to Milan, open…

Bottega Veneta's choices for its next creative direction: telling?

Milan’s fashion elite began expecting the other shoe to drop when the Italian house sent out a glossy shoot on its Instagram with a caption reading “True to Bottega Veneta, true to Milan, open for business.” And when a disembodied shoulder and equally impressive cuffs were posted on Bottega Veneta’s Facebook page, there were no sign of the note below the photo. It read: “Milan fashion show tomorrow, Thursday 15 June.” The consensus view was that Marni’s former creative director, Alessandro Michele, was serendipitously linked to the house he helped design for two years. This time around, it seems, Bottega Veneta was one of those lucky enough to get its hand on new talent, and now had its choice of designers.

The fashion week group that hangs on every whisper of catwalk gossip is always screaming, “Trust us, we have the inside track!” But how can it hope to project authority when it turns out to be wrong? Two weeks ago, Bulgari was forced to apologise for a comment posted on its Facebook page that Marni was its “next partner”. Since the agency Burson-Marsteller is, unfortunately, behind it, there had to be more than a hint of association – even if it was more a misjudged head nod. It was a reminder that industry rumours carry huge weight – even when, in this case, they are unreliable.

The fashion week Bottega Veneta was rumoured to be courting

So, given the salience of gossip, what can we expect when Bottega Veneta makes its first public appearance since the surprise news broke? Might it turn out to be more than just random goss? Can it really replace Michele and Marni? Will it be asked to dress Alessandra Facchinetti, whom Marni ousted this month? The answer is not straightforward. Michele was an artist within the fashion system, his offbeat designs – loaded with a sort of corny radiance – dancing with charm and enthusiasm. For Bottega Veneta to have a full-blown artistic return would be a seismic shift. As a label, it has strong technical credentials – its handmade leather goods are big news for anyone interested in such things. But it has not been part of the fashion world for any significant length of time, and it is very difficult to work in fashion without the credibility of celebrities, clothes magazines and others who’ve been in the game longer. Fashion insiders from the blockbuster houses make very often bad choices when new designers come into the industry; they are completely unprepared for the business that it is.

Kate Spade, for example, has great potential – more than has been realised since she was announced as creative director of Coach, but she too is a familiar brand. The same is true of Helmut Lang, another designer who struggled to find an established home outside of the super-luxury world. His own-label collections – beautifully made, fashion-focused – still sell well, and Marc Jacobs, his successor at Louis Vuitton, was a solid retail and retail legend before moving over to the creative chair. But Bottega Veneta does not come with an established cult following like those two. It is a slow-growing house and creative risk-taker Michele was just one reason it had remained off the radar during his tenure. In a week filled with nears, it is disappointing to see them disappoint and miss out on either someone brilliant or a shot at the future.

Leave a Comment