Bottega Veneta Spring Resort 2021

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After a long virtual preview of Bottega Veneta’s new resort collection, two things stood out: Daniel Lee’s obsessive attention to material—be it techy or humble—and his insistence on unusual, avant-garde silhouettes.

Bottega Veneta’s new resort collection, The two instincts came together in a pair of prodigious trousers with extreme volume through the calves, made from a sturdy fabric that the BV studio lovingly compares to “Dickies cotton.” The pants are exemplary of a collection among the most rousing to emerge from this COVID-19 season.

Lee has grasped that the world has changed—is changing—and that the way we’ll want to dress has too. Hence the comfort and familiarity of that cotton and an emphasis on surprisingly homey knits, which represent an evolution of his thinking about all the stretch materials he used on his last runway.

But there was no retreat into recuts or the safety of recent successes. “In the darkest moments creativity is so key,” Lee said. “It’s about making clothes you can’t find in other stores. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Lee’s exploration of silhouette led him in a couple of different directions. His tailored jackets are sculptural in proportion with those full-legged pants, featuring nipped waists and a V-shaped construction in the back that accentuates their shapeliness.

(The V—for Veneta—has become a recurring motif, and it’s used to compelling effect as hardware on a new classic bag.) But for all the emphasis on exaggerated volumes, Lee also likes a lean, abbreviated look for women: say, a knitted top and matching fringed above-the-knee straight skirt or a narrow minidress with one of the portrait necklines he’s made a signature.

These leggy pieces have a straightforward sexiness, one that’s likely to be influential as designers and the women they dress search for the new post-crisis. But Lee undercuts the sexiness in these pictures with substantial lug-soled, lace-up boots whose vibe is cool and young.

Another thing that won’t go unnoticed about this collection is its searing, gorgeous colour. Lee matched a vibrant jade pair of his voluminous new pants with a red tech mesh shirt, adding acid yellow pointy loafers and a chocolate brown bag for good measure.

Then there’s the electric lilac hue of an A-line shearling coat, a colour that reappears on a knit skirt suit and matching cardigan in what crafting circles would call the popcorn stitch, and the bubble gum pink of patent glove leather pumps with glittery acrylic Louis heels. He’s of the mind we won’t be wearing all-black this winter, even if our moods don’t match his joyful palette.

Fashion, at its most compelling, brings pleasure because it paints a vision of the future that looks fresh and new. If Lee’s playful printed dress in an intrecciato print of naked human bodies and the pouch bag in car seat cover wood beads the model carries with it become souvenirs of this strange lockdown season, it’s because they’re totems of a design team having fun. Who doesn’t want more of that at this moment?