Sometimes a spectacular set piece can be a distraction on the runway—a shiny red herring to distract from the fashion. But at Bottega Veneta‘s Spring Summer 2023 show, the internet-breaking, multi-coloured set by Italian design legend Gaetano Pesce worked in tandem with Matthieu Blazy’s wonderful clothes. Blazy was taking on a lot when he accepted the role as Bottega’s creative director. The brand was at the peak of a major rejuvenation, led by Daniel Lee, who had started in 2018. When Lee left the brand abruptly late last year, many wondered who would be able to sustain Lee’s meteoric success.
But Blazy, who cut his teeth at Raf Simons, and was Design Director under Lee at the time of his departure, has stepped into those shoes confidently. At his debut collection in February, he showcased a vision for the brand that was rooted in its new DNA, but with a more toned-down aesthetic sensibility. There was less of a focus on accessories, more of a focus on fabrics and wearability. Blazy doubled down on this notion for Spring/Summer, crafting clothes that, per his show notes, marry elegance and utility.
“The premise is simple–the collection is about a contrast of characters on the go,” Blazy explained. “They are invited to travel through Gaetano Pesce’s landscape. Here, two distinct worlds are juxtaposed, while our journey of craft in motion and quiet power continues.” That notion, of designing for women (and men) who are on the go, meant that everyday wardrobe staples were elevated to dizzying new heights. Seemingly simple looks, like jeans and white cotton T-shirts, are actually extremely supple leather. The flannel shirt worn by Kate Moss on the runway (another social media-breaking moment), took 12 layers of printing for Blazy to finesse the colour. The fringe dresses, figure-hugging and perfectly draped, were knit by hand.
Blazy’s collection was glowingly received, dubbed by fashion critic Rachel Tashjian as heralding “a return to chic”. It’s true that in a fashion climate where brands are abandoning decades of heritage to chase new legions of Gen-Z fans, collections like Blazy’s remind us of the quiet power of consistent design and remarkable craftsmanship. It’s a new era for BV, once less focused on buzzy sandals and more on catering to the day-to-day sartorial needs of fashion-obsessed women. Blazy’s reign is destined to be a long and fruitful one.