Bombastic - that’s the best way to describe the S/S 18 Bottega Veneta show, their second as a joint menswear and womenswear offering. The biggest supermodels in the sparkliest clothes with the loudest, most unsubtle beats - think energetic anthems like Nelly’s Hot in Herre and 50 Cent’s In Da Club. Doesn’t sound like the discreet, anonymous luxury we’ve come to know Bottega Veneta for? Well, no, it wasn’t. But then while current creative director Tomas Maier is a master of this quiet elegance, the brand have had moments in their relatively recent history of embracing such showy, crowd-pleasing big pimping shows - remember when Giles Deacon made the house an eighties tribute back in 2001 while creative director? And brands have to look forward - maximalism, obviousness and colour are big business in fashion today. When we’re viewing something like one hundred images per minute, eyes numb as we scroll and scroll past loud visuals and bold gimmicks, who has time for the discreet?
It was Katie Grand who, back in the noughties, encouraged the Italian house to hire Deacon to sex up and mix up the Italian house’s image. Today, she’s also Maier’s stylist, and this collection more than ever smacked of her taste and influence, from the sexy models (the ones usually found on underwear shoots than high fashion runways) like Emily Ratajkowski and Candice Swanepoel to the celeby models (Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Kaia Gerber, Presley Gerber, the Hadids) to the Prada-y whiffs, see those colourful studs and metal eyelets. I was struck by the simplest pieces that offered a break from the visual overload - the long t-shirt dresses with a gorgeous low cut back and sparkling surfaces were refined and beautiful. The menswear disappeared in the cloud of excitement generated by all those famous famous and lithe limbs. It’s harder to be unsubtle, sexy and shouty with menswear, so loud womenswear will always win out.
The given inspiration was colour. I thought less of bright hues and bold tones and more of the journalistic term ‘colour’ - when an editor asked you to enliven your piece with a bit of ‘colour’. That’s what had been injected this season - fun, humour, lightness, energy. It wasn’t subtle, but after a Milan Fashion Week where the loudest claps come for those who shout the loudest, sartorially speaking, I think that’s what the Bottega team were hoping for. Bottega Veneta - indiscreet luxury. We’ll get used to it.