After Daniel Lee’s shockingly abrupt, and yes we will admit, heartbreaking departure from Bottega Veneta, Leo Rongone, CEO of Bottega Veneta, said in a statement, “I would like to thank Daniel for his dedication… He provided Bottega Veneta with a fresh perspective and sense of modernity, while remaining respectful of the brand’s 50-year heritage. The remarkable growth of the brand over the last three years bears testimony to the success of his creative work.”
Bottega Veneta was Lee’s first tenure in the position of creative director. He was picked from the famed minimalism-enthused Old Celine studio where he worked as the womenswear director under the equally renowned designer Phoebe Philo. His early works were an eclectic mix of proportion and colour and his now cultish designs, which include the oversized pouch bag, puddle boots to name a few, quickly gained the industry’s attention, and at the 2019 Fashion Awards he was nominated for four awards and won them all.
Below _shift explores the works of Lee, as well as the stories and impact behind some of his most iconic and coveted designs.
The Puddle boot
The creative director presented his interpretation of transitional dressing in the form of the puddle boot, which was first sighted on the brand’s Autumn/ Winter 2020 catwalk. While not initially flying off the shelves, it was during the first lockdown period of the global pandemic that the boots really took off. US actor Tracee Ellis Ross declared the rain boot hybrid, made from biodegradable polymer, her “new favourite pandemic shoes”. Shortly after, model and Bottega Veneta devotee Rosie Huntington-Whitely also bagged herself a pair and the rest as they say is history.
The pouch bag
Daniel once again graced our eyes and our wardrobes (we wish) with a supersized version of the brand’s puffer bag – a staple in the house since the 1960s. The bag, when proposed by Lee to the brand’s marketing team at the start of his first season, was met with scepticism. This may have been understandable. After all, there was no logo, no shoulder strap and it wasn’t really that functional because you had to root around in it. However, the bag’s throw under your arm vibe and buttery soft leather look and feel instantly made it a hit across the pages of Instagram – you only have to look at it see see why.
The Trench Coat
Whilst Lee’s cult creations are often the accessories, it would be remiss of us not to dedicate a section to his outerwear, specifically his trench coat creations. The designs introduced an electrifying bolt of modernism to an age old classic. One design created for the womenswear Autumn/Winter 2020 collection featured a the timeless silhouette combined with leather to provide a dose of the Daniel Lee edge that had by that point become synonymous with him.
The Lido Sandal
The Lido sandals, which made their debut on Bottega Veneta’s Spring/Summer 2020 presentation, were exactly what possessors of the by-then-famous pouch bag were praying for – sandals to match. With the classic and timeless square-toe structure and the braided leather over-toe strap, they take the classic pouch bag texture to new heights. They aren’t boots, but there is no doubt that these sandals were made for walking.
The colour green
The fashion world came to love the colour green under Daniel Lee who used the secondary colour to elevate his collections and grow his legion of slavish followers in the process. Bottega Green, seen in the Autumn/Winter 2021 collection was a swift hit and went on to become a predictable find in the countless collections of street style dedicated Instagram accounts. Since then the colour, which has become one of the biggest in trends of 2021, has been adding an additional layer of sell-out-ability to the brand’s pouch bags, Lido sandals and Cassette bags.