Over the past three years, Daniel Lee has built a reputation at Bottega Veneta as the man to call for remarkably crafted daywear. Leather quilted coats, slouchy tailored trousers, crisp suits, and crochet bodysuits—the Lee-for-Bottega M.O is rooted in everyday wearability, with a fair few hysteria-inducing accessories thrown in for good measure. For Wardrobe 02—the brand’s answer to Pre-Fall ‘21—that narrative has shifted somewhat. Fashion obsessives have long been on the lookout for what post-Covid glamour might look like. It’s the difficult hard-to-strike balance between the frivolity of pre-pandemic life and the reality of lives that still feel half-lived.
Wardrobe 02 has done as good a job as any collection I recall in finding that middle ground, offering bold, frivolous, fabulous clothing that still somehow feels effortless and casual. Lee’s favoured shade of emerald—appropriately dubbed ‘Bottega Green’—appears courtesy of outrageous feathered trousers and slinky paillette dress. Elsewhere, there’s a strapless sequin column gown in an unignorable shade of cherry red (another established favoured hue of Lee’s), and a crushed-velvet off-the-shoulder ruched dress in a buttery shade of marigold. Oumi Janta—2020’s rollerblading Instagram sensation—spins on her skates in a dress dripping with sequins. It’s a rollicking visual feast.
Lee was inspired by the notion of “domestic glamour” while designing the collection, looking to bridge the gap between “the domestic high life” and the kind of carefree ‘Roaring 20s’ aesthetic we’re hoping to adopt in a post-pandemic world. This paradox was clear in collections’ styling—the aforementioned crushed velvet gown was worn with rubber clogs, while Rihanna-esque lace-up sandals dressed up a loungewear-adjacent slouchy jumpsuit.
The lookbook’s casting echoes the sense of intimacy evident in Lee’s clothing. Musicians Nenah Cherry, Skepta, and Arca appear in the Tyrone Lebon-lensed images, as does legendary stylist Venetia Scott and, in a particularly touching choice, Sarah Gretsy, the Central Saint Martins tutor Lee studied under.
This is the second collection Lee has presented since removing Bottega Veneta’s presence from social media, a radical and unprecedented move for an industry that so heavily relies on social clout. There’s certainly no doubt that Bottega’s relevance on Instagram continues to thrive, even without an official @BottegaVeneta handle—but the move showcased a desire to make the brand feel less accessible.
Having said that, there’s one thing we can depend on with as much certainty as death and taxes: those feathered trousers are coming soon to a grid near you.