If I had to pick a clear standout from Milan for the Spring/Summer 2024 womenswear season (with a smattering of menswear in between), it would have to go to Bottega Veneta.
Creative director Matthieu Blazy has managed to create such a niche look for the Italian brand in terms of its ready-to-wear offerings—without the need for overt branding or the use of a singular colour—more than any of his predecessors have done before. The bags and accessories, of course, continue to utilise Bottega Veneta's signature Intrecciato techniques (as they should) but Blazy's emphasis on craft and techniques has offered a distinct point-of-view that has made his ready-to-wear pieces identifiable as Bottega Veneta creations.
"There is a need to reconnect to a primal world of animals, minerals, and plants. It’s like collecting seashells—beautiful, meaningful or meaningless. It’s linked to the beauty of small marvels and natural wonders. It’s embracing something freeform: these are clothes without codes," Blazy says in the collection notes.
For the Bottega Veneta Summer 2024 collection, Blazy once again took us on a journey—one that crossed oceans and continents. Craft was the central connecting thread as culture-specific influences the world over were referenced and mashed together to create pieces that were (mostly) wearable and imbued with extreme technicalities. Yes, this meant that visually, the collection may not have appeared cohesive due to the many different techniques, colours and silhouettes that were employed throughout. The cohesiveness came through conceptually with summer- and beach-inspired ideas of craft apparent in a number of looks.
The fit: There's no singular look to the Bottega Veneta Summer 2024 collection. It was a transition of different moments in time and space—as though Blazy meant to showcase the Bottega Veneta man as one who's worldly and of many different leanings. The show opened with a knit swimwear look that looked as though it was stripped from the '20s (and perhaps one of the few menswear looks that felt wearable for the warmer climes). Although it's difficult to decipher accurately based on images and the runway video alone, I'm fairly certain that Blazy showed a number of his brilliant leather trompe l'œil looks where seemingly everyday pieces were actually crafted from leathers, and paired with leather ties.
What's technically impressive were the knit looks this season. Blazy had shown off a number of knit looks in the past few collections but they seemed to be amped up for Summer 2024 with even more flourishes and done in greater scale. Chunky jumpers and tanks were beautiful, crafted to perfection in complicated patterns but without a homespun quality. These were intended to look high-quality and luxurious—done by hand, yes, but with the precision of skilled, experienced craftsmen.
The details: Things got bigger in the bags department. The Bottega Veneta Summer 2024 bags were supersized such that they'd make pretty decent travelling companions. A massive duffle bag in croc (look 7) was half the size of the model that carried it, while the Sardines in Intrecciato took on their biggest iteration yet with the metallic handle offering an even better grip thanks to the upsized design.
Three exceptional looks: Look 11 and its deliciously chunky knit that enveloped almost the entirety of the ensemble under it; look 53's coordinated look consisting of a shirt and trousers with faggoting and jagged hems; and look 41's updated proposal of a tank-and-trouser fit.
The takeaway: I don't know who's rich enough to purchase Bottega Veneta ready-to-wear, but you'd definitely recognise the look right off the bat.
View the full Bottega Veneta Summer 2024 runway collection in the gallery below.
Versace is typically not one to quickly hop onto trends or care much about the shifts in consumer tastes. It marches to its own beat—coming up with a new-ish monogram, La Greca, only in 2021 (well after other brands) but relatively sticking to its signature Barocco prints, Medusa logo, and sexually charged designs.
It's surprising then that for Spring/Summer 2024, Donatella Versace decided to do a 180 with a collection that's representative of a return to minimalism—or that often misused phrase, "quiet luxury"—but done the Versace way. To be fair, this wasn't the first instance of Donatella going rogue with a rather minimalist collection. This is, however, perhaps her most successful execution yet.
The fit: The show opened with luxurious duchess silks adorned with the Versace Contrasto Checkerboard—a pattern that debuted in Spring/Summer 1982—in varying sizes and later paired with utilitarian pieces the likes of a perfectly cut trench and multi-pocketed gilet. They were simply teasers of what's to come: a skilful combination of tailoring and Versace motifs rendered in pastel hues.
The checked and square motifs continued on in multiple fabrications including wool crepe tweed. In some instances, checkerboard prints were layered with signature Barocco prints as well as a Versace Rose motif but in quite muted monochromatic renderings such that they weren't fighting for attention.
The focus on cut and tailoring were evident for the Versace Spring/Summer 2024 collection. Lines were sharp and clean with nipped in waists and three-dimensional sculptural shoulder moments that elevated the level of craft and construction further. In look 69 (the most minimal menswear look of the lot) for example, an impeccably tailored jacket with flared trousers showcased the peak of Versace tailoring but at the same time exuded a timeless aesthetic. It's highly edited and pared back, yes; yet the Versace man still exudes a sexy confidence.
The details: There's no denying that there were semblances of Miu Miu and Prada stylings—it's difficult to not reference the of-the-moment combinations, especially when taking on a minimalist approach. But again, Donatella made them her own. The peeking of underwear under trousers, scoop-neck tanks and fine gauge knit cardigans (both interpreted with gorgeous macramé Barocco borders) were reworked codes of Versace sensuality.
There were hints of a feminine-masculine tension that skewed in neither direction yet showed that the Versace man wouldn't be fazed even if it did. He's that confident.
Three exceptional looks: Look 12's maroon leather suit that's a stunning showcase of leather tailoring; the pastel blue mod-tailoring in look 23 with that clever styling of unbuttoning the last few buttons to show a hint of skin and underwear; and look 73's excellent tailoring.
The takeaway: This is how you do timeless, elegant minimalism while evolving house codes without looking like the next Zara collection.
View the full Versace Spring/Summer 2024 runway collection in the gallery below.