Bottega Veneta is hosting a fashion show in Detroit, but why?

Heard on a plane from New York to Detroit this Thursday: “Are you going to the Bottega Veneta show?” asked a black-clad editor. “No, I really like cars,” quipped an equally gloomy retailer. It seemed unlikely that any impulse other than the impending Bottega event would lead hundreds of people from the fashion industry – some of whom the Italian luxury fashion brand has flown in a chartered jet – to gather at Motor City . While not a typical stop on the fashion week circuit, Detroit was once called the “Paris of the Midwest,” a name that dates back to a 1705 letter Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a French merchant and settler, sent his boss, heralding the city’s Parisian potential. (Mr. Cadillac’s coat of arms, which was not entirely authentic, was ultimately loosely translated into the Cadillac automotive logo.)

The excitement around the Bottega Veneta show in Detroit this week is a testament to the warmth generated by British brand designer Daniel Lee, the Elfin Celine alum who made the once low-key Italian brand a star for the luxury conglomerate. Kering. Lover of techno and cars, Mr. Lee said he has been “obsessed” with Detroit since his first visit six years ago, and eager to showcase it. Born almost 20 years after founding Bottega Veneta in 1966, Mr. Lee has made it a brilliant destination for conceptual ready-to-wear and Instagrammy accessories, especially those in the new house shade of vibrant green – “parakeet “, as it is called.

This shade of green appears amid Detroit’s brick facades and industrial buildings, as the brand stages one of its “living room” concepts in the city. Part traditional fashion show and cultural event, previous shows have popped up in Berlin and London over the past year. Arriving downtown on Thursday, I spotted a woman with long blonde hair carrying a parakeet-colored shopping bag printed “Bottega Veneta” and almost as tall as her. In Corktown, named after its refugees from the famine of County Cork in the 19th century, the label has set up a three-month pop-up called “The Firehouse”, which will sell its products alongside art, records and books in partnership with Detroit cultural curators through January. 2022. As a result, treasures range from vintage books by the late Detroit poet laureate Naomi Long Madgett to $ 2,100 Bottega Veneta roller skates, parakeet of course.

During the show itself, which took place at the Michigan Theater, a crumbling 1926 marvel, a parakeet appeared on models wearing short evening dresses, sparkly pieces, and slightly ugly but coveted high-heeled sandals. . In the front row, a paler shade of parakeet appeared on the feathered shoes and bag of Lil ‘Kim, who, along with Mary J. Blige, Kehlani and Burna Boy, were among the many musical participants. Detroit techno legends Moodymann and Carl Craig contributed music to the show experience.

In a lively interview after the show, Mr Lee said he was eager to create a collection reflecting the city’s history of innovation. Thus, metallic threads, a nod to automotive engineering, were woven through certain parts. The rubber elements – beads, flat sequins and threads – might remind of tires or discs in their manufacture. “Everything at Bottega is actually a feat of engineering,” said Mr. Lee.

British designer Daniel Lee made the once low-key brand Bottega Veneta a star for luxury conglomerate Kering.


Photo:

Tyrone Lebon

The British designer’s fascination with the United States, also visible in looks like a Marilyn Monroe-style dress and stiff work clothes, became a theme. “I really wanted to make an American monument,” Mr. Lee said. He continued, “I was really excited by the idea of ​​’what is America? “- work clothes, denim, sportswear.”

While Mr. Lee’s intentions appear to be genuinely creative, for brands like Bottega Veneta the business motivation to enter the US market has never been stronger. In August, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech calling for greater redistribution of wealth and the reduction of excessive income in his country. It rocked fashion conglomerates that have relied on China for several years as a strong luxury market, with a subsequent two-day sale of 60 billion euros, or $ 70.26 billion, of the market value of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton,

Hermès, Richemont and Kering, the owner of Bottega Veneta. With this frost forming in China, the US market has become more important than ever for luxury brands.

And there’s no doubt about it, this stuff sells. At the Corktown pop-up, another of those oversized green shopping bags was waiting for a customer, stuffed with shoe boxes and stapled with a receipt for $ 5,800. These shopping sprees add up on a global scale: in the third quarter of 2021, Bottega Veneta’s turnover was 363.4 million euros in the third quarter, up 8.9% from the same period last year. “Business has been very strong since the arrival of Daniel Lee,” confirmed Sam Lobban, New York-based senior vice president of design and new concepts at Nordstrom, which sells the brand in its stores.

Can ordinary people, especially in a city as complex as Detroit, see such a successful foreign brand with goodwill? “We have a huge group of people here who love us, I think in a really authentic way,” Mr. Lee enthused after the show. And indeed, the people I spoke to seemed positive about the experience. Chris Schanck, a local furniture designer who created pieces for the pop-up, said he was impressed that Daniel “took the time to look around” and that he brought “creations, not costumes “. A waiter at one of the lunches for the show at the Shinola Hotel said he was delighted that “Milan’s biggest fashion house” has chosen to show up in Detroit.

Which does not mean that the joy was total. A woman dressed in head-to-toe parakeet green tried on a pair of tall sandals to pop up on a parakeet green carpet. “They are beautiful,” she said. “But they hurt like hell.”

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