Browse all

The strange assortment of guest stars in Bottega Veneta's latest lookbook

It's hard to see what the guest stars in the presentation say about the brand's identity

The strange assortment of guest stars in Bottega Veneta's latest lookbook It's hard to see what  the guest stars in the presentation say about the brand's identity

Yesterday, Bottega Veneta presented its new Wardrobe 02 collection presented with a lookbook that represents at the highest level the DNA and taste of the brand, cool, desirable and able to carry on the aesthetics that Daniel Lee had introduced with his Celiné-inization of the brand. The new collection comes at a particular time for Bottega Veneta, which over the last year has abandoned social networks, launched a digital magazine halfway between art and advertising (let's be honest) and had sunk for a few days in its first controversy when it had organized a party during the lockdown in Berlin that had angered everyone with its indigestible aura of elitism and privilege.

It is certainly interesting to note the very high rate of heterogeneity in the casting of the new lookbook: on the one hand well-known faces of the Italian star system such as Valeria Golino and Roberto Bolle, of which Lee is the boyfriend, on the other protagonists of the British music scene such as Tricky, saxophonist Nubya Garcia, Kenzie May, Skepta, Little Simz and Slowthai; along with them figures from the art world such as Sue Webster, the poet and director Caleb Femi, the non-binary singer Arca, the photographer and stylist Venetia Scott, the roller skater from Berlin that went viral last year Oumi Janta, the dancer Ellen van Schuylenburch but also the American Melina Matsoukas, director of Queen & Slim but also of various videos of Beyoncé from a few years ago, and Lee's old fashion tutor at Central Saint Martins, Sarah Gresty

Be alternative or act alternative?

The fact is that all these figures, more or less peripheral in respects to the fashion world, have almost no discernible common trait: apart from the large array of artists from the English music scene, which has not apparent relationship with the collection itself, none of these personalities, except perhaps Bolle and Skepta, are there to bring their own star power. A brand like Gucci, for example, chooses its faces among music and film stars, with a certain attention to eminent figures from the LGBTQIA+ world and socially engaged activists – which goes hand in hand with the brand's dual glamourous but socially responsible vocation. Seeing instead this pout-pourri of well-known faces and peripheral VIPs it is not clear what image is the one that the brand wants to evoke. Now, it is more than permissible for a particular brand like Bottega Veneta to prefer to draw its official faces from this or that cultural scene, especially it is the art world or specific musical scenes – but it is not clear whether with its casting Daniel Lee wanted to be alternative or simply to act alternative.

A friends thing

To put it simply, considered the positive surprise effect generated by the union of so many different personalities in a single lookbook, the risk of creating a confusing lump is always around the corner and Wardrobe 02 has conducted a fairly borderline operation on this – similar in some ways to the mega-activation made by Givenchy at the time of Matthew Williams' arrival. But if in Williams' case the attempt was about creating the hype through mainstream celebrities, in Bottega Veneta's case it's clear that it's not hype. Rather, it seems a fact linked to a certain cultural status, designed to associate the brand with the world of artistic circles and an undefined alternative culture.

But even this hypothesis does not work – as there is no real cultural scene or artistic production that is celebrated but only a series of talents in balance between the varied and the disparate. The most likely solution, then, may perhaps be the simplest: the protagonists of the campaign were less the friends & family of Bottega Veneta and more the friends & family of Daniel Lee. Which is not bad at all – except that you don't quite understand what this casting has to say about Bottega Veneta's identity or philosophy as a brand. Especially for such a successful collection in which the dresses speak perfectly on their own.