The cross-cultural message of Matthieu Blazy’s spring/summer 2024 Bottega Veneta collection – unveiled on a floor that had been painted with an abstract map of the world – was equal parts poignant and relevant,
The floor was painted like a map
On the outskirts of Milan, Bottega Veneta had – quite literally – created a world within a warehouse. As guests stepped into the vast space to find their seats, they walked across a floor painted like an abstract map of the world, adorned with fish and bird motifs. “The idea was the back of the Corn Flakes packets in the ’90s when you’d have those maps of how you’d travel, even at home, eating Corn Flakes,” Matthieu Blazy explained after the show. It wasn’t hard to picture a young Blazy – who hasn’t lost his air of childlikeness – dreaming himself away to Faroffistan with Tony the Tiger before heading to school. “I thought it was a beautiful idea to have a set where the models would literally travel around a world.”
It was about continuity
“The first look was in the first bag,” Blazy said, and he wasn’t being figurative. Literally, the model who opened the show carried in her bag the first look of his first collection for Bottega Veneta: a white leather vest and denim-illusion leather trousers from autumn/winter 2022. “I wanted to bring the idea of continuity. We had a lot of characters from the first show. They didn’t walk the show – it was a choice to bring in new people – but they kind of belonged to the same group. They carry the same clothes,” he explained. “It’s about building individuality.”
It was a cross-cultural message
Amplifying the cross-cultural message of his previous collection, Blazy freely drew inspiration from the dress codes of countries from every continent under the sun, without directly referencing any one in particular. “South America, South-East Asia, Russia, France, Sicily,” he said. “I mean, it was a world of possibilities. We looked at the cultures and the way people dress, and tried to blend it all together to create a kind of… not a new world, but a new proposal for what could be a different inspiration for the world.” Through the abstract lens of Blazy, it manifested in a worldly but highly abstract expression that morphed a sense of holiday dressing with indefinable tribal influences from around the world and the Western urban uniform.
It was about abstract contrasts of dressing
The meeting of worlds at the core of the collection was expressed in a sculptural form language suspended between the body-consciousness of dresses and rompers, and the great volumes of coats and other dresses, each created through the painstaking intricacy of the house’s mind-blowing craftsmanship. Bar the suits, none of these clothes were remotely normal. Coats were constructed as if massive pieces of fabric had been thrown over shoulders and tied back down at the hem, and dresses were hacked up and power-fringed and fashioned into pompoms through materials that were purposely difficult to decipher. “We looked a lot at the idea of people who travel and the way they expose themselves to the world,” Blazy explained. “We had a lot of capes: something that feels slightly more protective towards nature. I thought the first look, which was a kind of abstract bathing suit, was the opposite: being exposed to the world you are in.”
The message was poignant and relevant
“What are those people looking for? Are they looking for themselves? Are they finding it? Hope? New possibilities?” Blazy mused backstage. “They have to follow a kind of reason. They’re not going to the beach to lay down.” The gap-year mentality at the heart of Blazy’s vision for Bottega Veneta is – on so many levels – dreamy in a time when travel is increasingly limited. Between pandemics, Russian wars, burning forests and tsunamis, global exploration is fast becoming more of a dream than a possibility. In that sense, there’s both a poignant and relevant heal-the-world statement to Blazy’s work, but also a sense new-world creation. Watching his multicultural inspirations take abstract form before your eyes was almost like the science-fiction idea of taking a Noah’s Ark of this world’s greatest hits to a different planet.
This article was originally published on Vogue UK.