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Bottega Veneta’s Everything, Everywhere Essence Strikes Fashion Gold

Matthieu Blazy’s collection was a joyous and ingenious celebration of pure craft, writes Tim Blanks.
Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2023
Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2023 (Launchmetrics)

MILAN — “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is winning all the movie prizes on its way to Oscar gold. On Saturday night, it felt like Matthieu Blazy tapped into the same propulsive, polymorphous momentum with his sensational show for Bottega Veneta. Post-presentation, he talked about “the alchemy of the street,” the magic that happens when the world hits the sidewalk. Who knows what you’ll see, who you might meet?

“I was very interested in Carnival, where everyone walks in the same direction, we don’t know where they go but they go together,” Blazy marvelled.

This urgent message of togetherness, a deliberately uplifting riposte to the news that surrounds us, was borne along on surging sounds of celebration: samba, the sound of Carnival, African beats, an American marching band. Underscoring the momentum, the audience was joined in one room by the famous runners of Pompeii, two bronze statues on loan from the museum in Naples. In the other room, another museum loan, the sculpture by Italian Futurist Umberto Boccioni, which is one of Blazy’s profound inspirations, with its abstract rendition of a muscular body in motion. They provided a true “Everything, Everywhere…” moment of discombobulation. Who knows who you might meet at a BV show?

Blazy claimed he’d decided not to edit the collection. Instead, he kept adding characters, including some from his first two outings for BV. There were all sorts, every generation — a vamp, a gigolo, a gangster, a businessman, Delphic oracles, power dressers, poetesses, a couple who’d just got out of bed (their bedsocks knitted leather), even some mermaids (a personal obsession of Blazy’s), scaly torsos emerging from watery cascades of shimmering fringe, because creatures of myth should not be denied their place in the industry of human happiness.

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“There is nothing more beautiful than kids when they feel empowered, when they wear a costume, and we wanted to bring this kind of feeling,” Blazy explained. “The idea you can be whatever you want to be.”

It was almost as though he was suggesting fashion as a kind of transformative superpower. That is actually an idea which is at the core of Blazy’s creativity. His instinctive appreciation of the craft of making clothes has found the perfect outlet in Bottega Veneta’s workshops. The very first look he showed for BV a year ago — a white cotton tank, a pair of blue jeans — hardly looked like a bold new direction, until the penny dropped that the entire outfit was nubuck leather. Blazy closed his show in Saturday with the same look, like he was closing a chapter. (Even though he did mutter, “Maybe it starts again.”)

But that gesture, coming at the end of a cavalcade of extraordinary variety, was also a reminder of how far he’s come in twelve months. There were more of those trompe l’oeil leather pieces, the skins even lighter this time. A coat that looked re-embroidered was actually woven in one piece (a technique which took the whole year to master). One young man was sensibly dressed in a shirt, tie and pants, all of them knitted. Here was the key: the effort was subtle, not showy. “We try as much as we can to integrate the technique within the fabric itself,” said Blazy.

Which isn’t to say that there weren’t showy pieces here. Since his days at Margiela, Blazy has always grasped the pulse of desire that ignites fashion. An intreciatto thigh boot on Julia Nobis or Emma Balfour, for instance. There were glories here: the draped dress in a shade of Art Deco eau de nil, clasped at the thigh with a ceramic buckle; the grey tweed coat collapsing into a torrent of loose threads; boudoir-ish looks trimmed in…I want to say passementerie but that is probably much too banal for the BV magician and his apprentices. But there was also tailoring and knitwear and dressing-up dresses and a proper sense of all-day garde-robe for men and women. In other words, a commercial astuteness which suggest Blazy’s creative alchemy is quite capable of chasing gold for King Kering.

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About the author
Tim Blanks
Tim Blanks

Tim Blanks is Editor-at-Large at The Business of Fashion. He is based in London and covers designers, fashion weeks and fashion’s creative class.

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