If there was any doubt about Bottega Veneta’s position at the forefront of the industry in 2019, last night’s Fashion Awards dispelled it. Winning all four awards that the brand, and its relatively new creative director Daniel Lee were nominated for, it’s clear that the rise of Bottega is synonymous with the rise of Daniel Lee.
After 17 rather stagnant years of Tomas Maier at the helm, Lee’s appointment was a breath of fresh air to the Bottega brand, air that blew old Bottega cobwebs out the window on day one. Studying fashion design at Central Saint Martins, Lee’s CV before Bottega includes stints at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Celine, but his creations at Bottega Veneta are so far his most celebrated, case in point: last night’s awards.
The Fashion Awards are sort of like the BAFTAs of style, so winning the British Designer of the Year, Womenswear is a significant one. But this boy from Bradford didn’t just win this award, he and Bottega also took home Designer of the Year, British Designer of the Year – Accessories and Brand of the year. Coming from Celine peak Phoebe Philo era, where Lee was director of ready-to-wear design, you’d think that his appointment at such a heritage label from Italy would be odd. But in fact this concoction, this blend of opposites, most definitely attract, sort of like cheese and onion crisps or peanut butter and jelly. If we’re talking in food metaphors here, then it’s fair to say Bottega’s leather goods are its bread and butter. In the mere year since Lee’s first collection graced the catwalk, quilted accessories are top of fashion’s most-wanted list. Lyst reported that in 2019 the pouch bag was the world’s most wanted accessory. Number two was BV stretch sandals, which became hugely popular thanks to a surging trend in ‘barely-there’ sandals.
The thing is, Kering’s decision to appoint Lee was a smart one, the trophy accessories appeal to the industry’s influencers and are endorsed by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Rihanna (and all her fans), but the clothing appeals to tastemakers and the Philophiles of style. It’s not the first time Kering has successfully selected a relatively unknown second in command. When Alessandro Michele was announced as the new creative director at Gucci, sounds amongst the industry echoed, ‘who?’ But he’d not come far, formally being his predecessor, Frida Giannini’s number two.
Although Bottega wasn’t the only winner, Naomi Campbell picked up the Fashion Icon award, Rihanna took Urban Luxe and Adut Akech scooped the Model of the Year accolade, it was Daniel Lee that visited the podium most. With only a year under his belt, Lee’s proved that if you’re still mourning over ‘old Céline’, perhaps instead you should be drooling over ‘new Bottega’.
IMAGE I SHUTTERSTOCK