Here’s everything you need to know from Matthieu Blazy’s latest offering at Milan Fashion WeekBottega Veneta
Much has been made of the return of “clothing” at fashion week, which is something people tend to say when writing about the brands they’d like to personally wear themselves. Their point is that – in an era of social media-friendly fashion shows – there’s something radical about producing beautifully-rendered items for everyday use. Those tensions surfaced within Bottega Veneta’s latest collection when Matthieu Blazy doubled-down on his deceptive leatherwork, creating unassuming tank tops, jeans, cable-knit socks, and pyjama sets. This is precisely the kind of thing that travels well on the feed but can only really be experienced IRL; in photos, the trompe-l'œil effect is so uncanny that it’s hard to tell when the leather is not silk or denim. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that Bottega Veneta’s AW23 collection dovetailed with its return to social media as the brand made its comeback on the Chinese platform Weibo.
THE CROWD WAS AS OFFBEAT AS THE CLOTHES
@dazed Our queen 💚 We asked @Kelela “Whats your guilty pleasure?” At the #BottegaVeneta show 💫 #DazedFashionTV #tiktokfashion #kelela #mfw #fashion #milanfashionweek ♬ original sound - dazed
Alongside the usual bevy of fashion editors and influencers, Matthieu Blazy invited Kelela and RM of BTS to sit beside each other on the front row – the former taking the opportunity to confess her guilty pleasures to Dazed (smoking weed and drinking coffee on an empty stomach). Much like the collection itself, showgoers embodied a heady mix of characters from across the cultural sphere: Dave, Vegyn, Mustafa the Poet, and Afrodeutsche, but also Yusra Mardini (an Olympic swimmer from Syria) and Ilona Staller (a Hungarian-Italian porn star, politician, singer, and socialite).
THE COLLECTION CONCLUDED BLAZY’S ITALIAN TRILOGY
Contemporary artists SAGG Napoli, Alvaro Barrington, and Olympia Scarry were invited to sit on Gio Ponti’s 1957 Superleggera chairs, with Lucy Chadwick (director of the Champ Lacombe gallery in Biarritz) and Antwaun Sargent (who is the director of the Gagosian) also in attendance. Scattered with historical references to Italian culture, the collection was inspired by the well-heeled Italians Blazy sees on a day-to-day basis. Bringing the past and present in line with each other, the show space was flanked by two sets of statues, which arose from a speckled, terrazzo floor: Umberto Boccioni’s 1913 Unique Forms of Continuity and a pair of Roman bronze athletes known as the Corridori. On loan from the National Gallery of Cosenza and the National Archeological Museum of Naples, curators from both institutions were invited to host a talk with Milanese students the day after the collection debuted.
IT WAS CARNIVAL-INSPIRED
In allying social observation with antiquity Blazy took fistfuls of disparate Italian archetypes and unified them under the same banner. The result, he said, was carnivalesque. “I loved the idea of the parade in Italy; a procession, a strange carnival, a crowd of people from anywhere and everywhere and yet somehow, they all fit and go in the same direction,” the designer explained in his show notes. “I wanted to look at what makes people gather together in a place without hierarchy, where everyone is invited.” So while dresses were trimmed in buccaneering feathers, calling to mind actual carnivals, there were “bombshells” in sheer chemise slips and bed socks; “businessmen“ in pinstriped nightshirts; “priests“ in ecclesiastical blazers; and “playboys“ in wipe-clean trench coats and feline-furred lapels.
...AND IT WAS MEANT TO CONFUSE PEOPLE
Beyond all the trick-of-the-eye leatherwork – which sent High Fashion Twitter spiralling – Blazy compounded his couture-level, tactile quirks. Across the 81-looks (which he refused to edit down) the designer showcased bulbous jelly pumps and knee-high intrecciato boots, he plumped up the waistbands on cocktail dresses to evoke mermaid panniers, and he fitted handbags with murano glass handles. Everything was overblown and exaggerated: tweed coats exploded at the hem, suits were accented with superhero shoulders, and A-line two pieces were embedded with gummy grapes and wobbly rubber lines. Garnished in bristling textures, he layered dresses with florals from Botticelli’s Primavera, gave knitted jumpers and skirts scale-like surfaces, and cinched wrap-around dresses with ceramic fastenings – all of which was bookended by his (viral) leather tank tops and jeans from his debut collection.