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What will be the future of Bottega Veneta after Daniel Lee?

After a sudden divorce, the brand is looking for a new way forward

What will be the future of Bottega Veneta after Daniel Lee? After a sudden divorce, the brand is looking for a new way forward

If we were to look up the definition of "twist of fate" in the dictionary, we would most likely find a screenshot of Vanessa Friedman's tweet in which she announced the separation between Daniel Lee and Bottega Veneta. The news of the British designer's farewell came like a bolt out of the blue, interrupting what on paper seemed to be a perfect marriage destined to last for years, immediately opening the doors to a thousand questions about the causes of the divorce and the future. According to WWD, at the base of the goodbye there would be tensions that arose within the work environment due mainly to the attitude of Lee and reached a point of no return during the organization of the show of the brand in Detroit. As written on Twitter by Christina Binkley, the choice by Kering to communicate the farewell of Daniel Lee on the day of the CFDA Awards, the Oscars of fashion in which the former Bottega had two nominations, would seem to be not accidental as evidence of the clear break between the two parties.

The decision to say goodbye to its creative director remains a very risky move on the part of the Kering group, which in one fell swoop deprives itself of not only a rising personality in the fashion industry but above all of the demiurge of the new identity of the brand - renamed "New Bottega" - which it is not an exaggeration to define as the most interesting and exciting operation of the last years. Lee has managed to fuse the spirit of hype with the luxury image of Bottega in a very elegant way but at the same time succeeding in obtaining the endorsement of the entire industry and a remarkable economic rebirth after the downturn seen under the direction of Tomas Maier. With eleven collections under his belt, Lee's three years have seen the birth and affirmation of "Bottega Green", which has become synonymous with the brand in a record time, especially, as Vanessa Friedman points out, when compared to the time it took Tiffany to impose its blue or Christian Louboutin to impose its red. The latest collection - presented in the Detroit show a month ago - has attracted some criticism for the absence of novelties or statement items as in previous shows. Yet it is normal - indeed almost healthy - for a brand and its designers to take some "rest" fashion shows precisely to avoid that spiral of expectations that pushes brands towards a spasmodic search for brilliance and that inevitably leads to "jumping the shark".

But if, on one hand, the success of Bottega sotto Lee is undeniable, on the other hand, the sales of the last year tell us of a brand in which only 7% of its revenues came from ready-to-wear, while 74% came from leather goods and 16% from shoes, for a sales total that constituted 9% of the sales of the Kering group. For this reason, if we had to talk about change, we could not exclude the possibility of embarking on a path in which, alongside the maintenance of what have now become the staples of the brand, a ready-to-wear capable of making a real difference could find space. But what will happen now? It's hard to say, perhaps impossible, but making assumptions is definitely legitimate. In the press release issued yesterday by Kering, the group ensures that plans for a "new creative organization" will soon be announced, suggesting, or perhaps not, the possibility of not seeing a single name at the helm but a group of designers who can carry on the good work done by Daniel Lee without interrupting what has in fact been the least long-lived creative director in the history of the brand.

In the range of possibilities for a name that could take the lead, there is certainly that of Matthieu Blazy, design director who arrived at the court of Bottega in June last year after having held the same role at Calvin Klein during the Raf Simons era. Among the protégés of the Belgian designer, Blazy was also designer for Margiela until the arrival of Galliano in 2014 and would represent an ideal name fully inserted in the dynamics of Kering, used to "promote" a name already present within the brand as in the case of Gucci and Alessandro Michele. Decidedly more complex is the road that leads to Phoebe Philo, a suggestive hypothesis for many reasons but impracticable for many others: from the launch of her new brand announced in July to the close bond with the LVMH group that makes the idea of seeing the French designer at the helm of Bottega Veneta look like one of those summer soccer suggestions. Whatever the choice will be, the pages of fashion written by Daniel Lee will remain in the history not only of Bottega Veneta, but in the entire fashion system, undoubtedly representing the foundations on which his heir, whoever it may be, will have to build the future of the brand.