The name Daniel Lee might not ring a bell right now, but you'll definitely be paying close attention to its owner after browsing through his debut collection for Bottega Veneta. The young British designer was christened as the Italian brand's new creative director last July, marking the end of Tomas Maier's 17-year tenure.
If you find it strange that a relatively unknown designer was given such big shoes to fill, consider that Lee had previously cut his teeth at luxury fashion houses like Maison Margiela, Balenciaga, and Donna Karan—and that he'd spent the last five years as Director of Ready-to-Wear Design at Céline.
You'll see the influence of the latter right away in Bottega Veneta's Pre-Fall 2019 collection. With the intention of concocting a timeless Bottega Veneta wardrobe, Lee combined craftsmanship, modernity and luxurious wearability. This formula, previously perfected by Phoebe Philo, was tweaked to reflect Bottega Veneta's Italian heritage, as well as Lee's fascination with the elegance of Italian women like Monica Vitti, Franca Sozzani and her sister, Carla.
The result? "Real clothes", as Lee puts it: satin blouses, finely tailored jackets, and sensual slip dresses with intriguing details like misplaced buttons and scoop necklines. Unlike a Céline collection, however, subtlety was not strictly observed; one look featuring a long coat in bright yellow was followed by another that saw Bottega Veneta's signature Intrecciato weave blown up on a leather skirt.
That supersized weave was Lee's key to breathing new life into the 52-year-old brand. It appeared on pumps and sandals (which already stood out for their square toe), as well as on equally supersized bags that are destined to become hot favorites this season. If this Pre-Fall 2019 collection is just a glimpse of what's to come next February when Lee stages Bottega Veneta's Fall/Winter 2019 show, it isn't hard to be optimistic.