"It's good to be safe, but you know it's really important to be bold." These were the words that echoed through the room as models snaked their way through a sparse group of guests during Bottega Veneta's Spring/Summer 2021 collection, also known as Salon 1 London. The concept is a clothing collection, but also a series of books along with a record, all of which give backstory to creative director Daniel Lee's processes. In lieu of a traditional runway show during September's Milan Fashion Week, Lee, like many other designers, chose to adapt to his own schedule, showing to a small group in London in October, but only releasing the accompanying video and imagery now.
“A lot of us moved to Milan for Bottega, and obviously with the world shut down, all we really have is each other at the studio and the work," Lee told Vogue. "It’s almost like a therapy. It gets you through the darkest times because you can completely lose yourself in making a beautiful fabric, a beautiful garment.” Lee's tenure at Bottega Veneta has been marked by his ability to electrify editors and influencers with his playful reimagination of the brand's pillars by playing with proportion and texture. There was The Pouch, The Puddle Boot, and the shearling coat already worn by Rihanna and Hailey Bieber — just to name a few of his most notable hits.
For the coming season, Lee zeroed in on his own reimagining of the comfy knitwear and relaxed silhouettes that have come to dominate a year at home. Lee looked to handcrafts, nodding to the '60s, home furnishings, and a sense of cozy nostalgia. Chunky, voluminous knits evoke the memories of crochet throws your grandma may spend her time creating. Flower doilies on a dress and coat also take you back in time.
But, while the vintage references can be seen throughout the collection, designs remain modern and forward-thinking. Textured knitwear isn't bumpy and bulky, but instead a voluminous pillow of safety and protection. Platform mules, rubber slip-ons, and strappy sandals are color-coordinated to each look, creating a sense of effortless streamlining — often reflected with the season's bag choices as well. Models walked with coordinated knit clutches, top-handle bags, and slouchy woven leather styles.
And while relaxed silhouettes and room for movement were a purposeful part of the collection, there is a feeling that none of the brands edge or sensuality is lost in this transaction. The shortened hemlines, draping, and tailoring throughout (including hidden hip pads), serve as a reminder that even as designers offer comfort, it's by their own set of rules. As Lee said again to Vogue, "I’m always interested in this idea, of how you can feel done up and elegant at the same time as feeling comfortable. That’s really my kind of mission for Bottega."
See more of the collection below.