His designs may get a tighter grip on social media a every year but he prefers to desert it. Daniel Lee, the creative director of Bottega Veneta since June 2018, has restored the Italian brand to its former glory and shaken things up along the way. And it’s working.
You can’t have missed it. The Italian designer Bottega Veneta left social media at the start of 2021 to everyone surprise. The media wondered about the reason behind the sudden departure. Marketing ploy? Digital detox? Feed overhaul? Nobody knows yet. That fact is that Daniel Lee gets tongues wagging by going against the trend and focusing on the product.
A paradox? The British designer from Yorkshire (who’s celebrating his 35th birthday today) doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. Daniel Lee is understated when it comes to public speaking, keeps his personal life private and prefers to blend into the world around him. He graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2011 and earned his stripes at Maison Margiela and Balenciaga under Nicolas Ghesquière. But really came into his own as prêt-à-porter director at Céline where he shone alongside Phoebe Philo for 7 years.
He the Bottega Veneta reins from the German Tomas Maier in 2018. The designer brand founded in Milan in 1966 specialises in leather, specifically a weaving technique called Intrecciato. It’s all about craftsmanship, quality and class. Daniel Lee is true to the brand’s values.
That said, he spices things up with a fresh perspective and modern twist. He made his mark with new volumes from his first pre-fall 2019 collection. Oversize bags, long streamlined coats, sexy yet stylish details: premium materials given a good dose of wearable cool. His understanding soon paid off: he won 4 prizes at the 2019 Fashion Awards. “British womenswear designer of the year”, “Accessories designer of the year”, “Designer of the year” and “Brand of the year”. Unprecedented for a designer in the space of just 18 months.
The collections that followed have been a roaring success. The brand’s sales had levelled off a long time ago (mainly bags) but they soared. From Curve mules to Puddle boots in biodegradable rubber, the flashy footwear soon became the height of fashion. As the designer told British Vogue, “I like things that are bold and quite direct. I like things that are straightforward.” Ultra-desirable pieces and a good dose of daring and mystery strategy: Daniel Lee is the best thing to happen to Bottega Veneta.