The huge bag debut by new creative director Daniel Lee.
Let’s start with the name.
Arco is both a picturesque town in Northern Italy and one of Milan’s famous city gates, the Arch of Peace (Arco della Pace). Located in the heart of the fashion capital, the neoclassical arch is the inspiration for the pièce de résistance of Daniel Lee’s debut collection for Bottega Veneta. Arco della Pace was also the formidable backdrop of Lee’s Fall 2019 runway show.
Sharing his vision for the brand, Lee said, “Maintaining the ingrained codes of the House, craftsmanship, quality and sophistication, I look forward to evolving what has gone before, while contributing a new perspective and modernity.”
True to his word, Lee’s first collection for Pre Fall 2019 is distinctively Italian, unmistakably Bottega Veneta, and undeniably modern. How so? Emblematic elements such as the knot, chain jewellery and intrecciato from the fashion house are given new life in the collection. The intrecciato, for instance, is blown to macro-size on both accessories and garments. The brand’s love of lush materials, such as cashmere, silk and leather, are also fully embraced.
Artisanal craft – the pride of the Italian house – takes centrestage in its range of accessories, from handbags to footwear, many celebrating the intrecciato methods of knotting, weaving, and braiding. Clean lines and architectural forms dominate in the collection, as seen in the square-toe footwear, minimalistic hardware of the bags, and jewellery featuring hammered balls and chains of gold and silver.
The unique Arco bag proposed by Lee extends the handsome, classy, understated luxe narrative of Bottega Veneta, reinforcing the defining characteristics of his creative vision for the brand.
The intrecciato refreshed
Say intrecciato, and Bottega Veneta will undoubtedly come to mind. Lee has undertaken the challenge of evolving the brand’s signature artisanal leather weave, and the result is refreshingly modern. The new intrecciato, as seen on the Arco, is a deconstructed, orthogonal weave. While the fettucce (strips) are uniformly sized in the classic intrecciato, the Arco’s fettucce vary proportionally to the size of the bag, which is available in four sizes (Perspective is important so we have laid out the images of the bags, as worn, in the following order: Arco 33, 48, 56, 75.) One will also not miss the interior of the bag, which has been deliberately unlined to reveal the precise construction of the bag. The French calf fettuce has also been reinforced through its bonding with natural-hued suede.
Clean lines, thoughtful touches
Like its namesake monument, the Arco bag boasts a solid construction. The dome-shaped closure flap, long curved tubular handles, and solid rectangular base give the bag an architectural quality that is unique and modern. The harmonious play of shapes on the Arco, according to the brand, is the fruit of “research aimed at achieving visual coordination”. Don’t be fooled by the Arco’s outward simplicity too; its creation is painstakingly complex, as each bag is precisely crafted with more than 100 pieces.
Beyond its handsome looks, the Arco also deserves praise for its thoughtful design. Lee’s meticulous attention to detail achieves not only aesthetic perfection but also practical functionality. The gentle curve of the handles enhances ease of wear (especially when slung over the shoulder) while the figure of eight sliding loop which is secured to the rear handle and connected to the front handle with a button, keeps the handles close together. Now that’s a detail wearers like myself definitely appreciate.
Natural colours and luxe finishes
In line with Bottega Veneta’s long heritage of working with the most premium leathers, the Arco is made with a new variety of French calf skin, which has a silky smooth texture; and the Palmellato, which has a grainy texture and a soft sheen.
At Bottega Veneta’s Italian workshops, the Palmellato calf skin undergo a night-long process of grain milling to soften the leather and enhance its grain pattern. The details of the distinctive check-like pattern are further accentuated by hand-dyed dark edges and cream saddle stitching.
The contrasting matte finish of suede and subtle gleam of the French calf in oversized Arco 75 draws attention to the intrecciato weave. Colour-wise, the Arco comes in a selection of natural leather hues that work well with different wardrobe staples.
Of the four sizes of the gender-neutral Arco bag designed to suit wearers of different builds and personal styles, my favourite is the Palmellato 33. I love my happy small bags, and I assure you that this size is perfect for those who prefer petite totes. In spite of its compact size, the interior is surprisingly roomy. It can comfortably accommodate all daily essentials, including a mini tablet too. The versatility of wear is another boon; you can sling it over the shoulder, wear it in the crook of the elbow, or simply clasp it in your hand.
With the Arco and the rest of the Pre-Fall 2019 wardrobe, Lee’s certainly off to a promising start. Who else can’t wait to see the future collections?
Images courtesy of Bottega Veneta and author, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.