If you Miss #OldCéline, You'll Love the New Bottega Veneta
In the world of designer comings and goings, Phoebe Philo's departure from Céline caused the biggest kerfuffle in recent memory. Devotees of her unique take on sensual, intellectual, often difficult-to-understand designs (myself among them) were bereft. Under Philo, Céline became a haven for women who dress for themselves. Who appreciate a great, strange shoe or perfect pair of pants. I am one of those women, and I was totally heartbroken when she left. And since then, there's been much chatter about which brand would serve women like me. Who would become the new Céline? (The accent here is crucial; Hedi Slimane, the designer who took over the brand, eliminated it.)
Today, it seems, we have our answer. Daniel Lee recently took over as creative director at Bottega Veneta, and his debut collection is full of the kinds of things Philophiles love — unexpected proportions, odd color pairings, sort of unflattering but cool shapes. Adding more heft to our theory: Lee was previously director of ready-to-wear at Céline.
His first collection for Bottega is still full of the Italian brand's heritage. There is plenty of the classic woven and braided leather (called intrecciato) as well as sumptuous suedes and plays on the house's iconic knot.
The collection is also essentially Italian (Celine is a French brand) — Lee was inspired by Milanese Reductionism, and the entire collection is grounded by what they call "Milanese black." Every piece I've seen so far (I've been lucky enough to fondle a few of the bags, and some of the new ready-to-wear) feels cool and unexpected, but also extremely practical and wearable. These aren't clothes that scream one thing or another (despite carrying Bottega's signatures), rather their subtlety hints that the wearer is part of a secret club of neat, smart ladies.
While I took it kind of personally when Philo left Céline (and when I got a glimpse of the actual new Celine under Slimane — I get it, but likely won't wear it), I was a little relieved to not have so much pressure on my Amex. Now I guess I should just start forwarding all my paychecks to Bottega Veneta.