DESIGNER 101

Bottega Veneta 101:
A History

By Taylor M. Sep 1, 2020

Bottega Veneta is a name often uttered by individuals who

stay consistently up-to-date on the very latest in high fashion and luxury, due to the label’s esteemed reputation for artful design and fine craftsmanship. Since Bottega’s amelioration – sparked by creative director Tomas Maier in 2001 – the brand continues to reflect on its initial, refined essence rather than playing into the widespread hype surrounding logomania and other trends.

The Italian leather goods company is a pinnacle of quality, and each piece is intended to meld into the buyer’s lifestyle seamlessly. From the iconic Intrecciato woven leather accessories, to the sleekness of each ready-to-wear collection, Bottega guards the threshold of opulence and taste. The core ideals of Bottega still stand in 2020, which hold that its items should not only be durable in the face of wear for years to come, but must also remain relevant in style throughout the life of its loyal clientele.

 

History of Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta originated in 1966 in Vicenza, Italy. The brand was founded by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro and its primary product was leather goods. Bottega’s roots tie it to a non-branded philosophy that gave its items a rarefied pith. Advertising with the slogan, “When your own initials are enough,” the brand established itself as an understated treasure from an early start. In the late seventies Taddei and Zengiaro left control of the brand up to Taddei’s former wife, Laura Moltedo.

Bottega Veneta History 101 Vintage Advertisement

Vintage Bottega Veneta Ad – “When your own initials are enough”
Source Unknown

The eighties were when Bottega first gained a great deal of recognition by famous artists and celebrities alike. A regular patron, for example, was Andy Warhol. He often stopped into the New York boutique – and even went on to produce a short film for the brand.

Bottega Veneta History 101 Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol kissing a Bottega Veneta loafer
Source Unknown

In the nineties, during the logo craze, Bottega adopted more trend-driven design elements and saw a decrease in popularity during the highly competitive decade. There was an attempt to reinvigorate the label with the appointment of head designer Giles Deacon, but it wasn’t until the company was acquired by the Gucci Group in 2001 that Bottega regained some traction. At the time of the transition, new creative director Tomas Maier took over design and set out to implement the brand’s early ideologies. Stepping away from logos, Maier highlighted the brand’s famous Intrecciato weave and focused on more clarified design. Maier once said, “The Italian artisan was the starting point. Today, the collaboration between designer and artisan is at the heart of everything we do.” In 2006, the company implemented a school to train leather artisans, Scuola della Pelletteria.

Bottega Veneta History 101 Tomas Maier and Daniel Lee

 Tomas Maier (Left) and Daniel Lee (Right)
Courtesy of L’Officiel

Modern-Day Bottega with Daniel Lee

Presently, Daniel Lee holds the position of creative director. He took the role halfway through June 2018, and at the time had little recognition as a young, British designer, though his track record was more than impressive. Previously, he had worked at Celine under Phoebe Philo as director of ready-to-wear, and before that held positions at Maison Margiela and Balenciaga. Since his joining Bottega Veneta, the company has been catapulted into the spotlight of must-have fashion. Just eighteen months into his new role, Daniel Lee received a number of Fashion Awards including Brand and Designer of the year. This was no surprise to the industry, as it had just seen his work develop a new fanbase for Bottega in the blink of an eye. This “New” Bottega, characterized by Lee as clean and back to the essential, came just in time for “Old” Celine fans to pick up, as Harper’s Bazaar sharply pointed out in December 2019.

 

History of the Intrecciato Weave

 

Josefine H J wears the Intrecciato Weave Hobo

Shortly after its birth, Bottega’s machinery for production seemingly put it at a disadvantage from other manufacturers of leather goods. The sewing machines the young house was equipped with lacked the strength that those of other purveyors possessed, making it impossible to fuse more robust leathers. The solution to this problem was the primary innovation that set the label up for success in the early seventies: the Intrecciato Weave. In order to utilize delicate, supple leathers effectively, the brand opted for a woven pattern to supply its handbags with durability. Intrecciato was chosen because it is the Italian word for “braided.” Past creative directors have adapted this technique, showcasing its versatility through different textures and colorways. To this day under Daniel Lee, the intrecciato weave is vastly recognizable and cherished in the fashion industry, and it appears across all categories of Bottega’s accessory offerings.

Maria Von Behrens wears the Maxi Weave Padded Cassette Bag

The Intrecciato Weave at Rebag

Bottega Veneta History 101 Veneta Hobo

Veneta Hobo Stitched Intrecciato Nappa Large

Bottega Veneta History 101 Shopper Tote

Shopper Tote Intrecciato Nappa Small

Bottega Veneta History 101 The Pouch

The Pouch Intrecciato Nappa 20

Bottega Veneta History 101Box Knot Clutch

 Box Knot Clutch Fringe Intrecciato Nappa Small

Perhaps the current success of Bottega Veneta is owed to the minimal, but precise approach that Lee brings to the table. In an interview with Vogue in 2018 he described the brand as “a heightened aspirational reality,” stressing also the importance of teamwork within the company and a minimal approach to celebrities and branding. He displays a keen understanding of the label’s core and the brand now has an air about it that feels both genuine and exalted, which is no doubt working for luxury consumers. One thing is for sure: we expect only great things at Bottega in the near future. In the meantime, we will continue to fawn after the iconic handbags made with the utmost detail and intention.