Textural intrigue has been core to Matthieu Blazy’s Bottega Veneta since his inaugural collection, when the designer imprinted leather shirts and jeans with photorealistic trompe l’oeil prints that made them look like, well, normal shirts and jeans.
Now, for the third year of Bottega Veneta’s ongoing relationship with Biennale College Danza — the International Festival of Contemporary Dance — Bottega Veneta has devised ingenious “denim” sets, designed for the dance troupe commissioned by La Biennale di Venezia to perform When I Am Facing U, the new composition by Shanghai-based choreographer Xie Xin.
Bottega Veneta’s outfits are cleverly intended to be both light enough to avoid restricting the dancers’ movements and unassuming enough to appear like ordinary denim shirts and pants. They’re comprised entirely of ultra-flowy viscose silk, a delicate and historic textile formed from wood pulp rather than the byproduct of silkworms.
Teamed with a timeless ribbed Bottega tank, the dancers outfits look like a pastiche of James Dean’s wardrobe from a distance. In motion, though, they reveal themselves to be fluid yet sturdy, dancing in coordination with the artists themselves.
The silk denim sets are a far cry from Bottega Veneta’s typically beefy trompe l’oeil clothing.
While the silk sets are graceful and breezy, Bottega Veneta’s usual shapeshifting designs utilizes supple leather and sturdy silicone (plastic by any other name) to evoke rumpled paper, poppable bubble wrap, and brushed cotton flannel.
The tricky denim is all part of the workwear fascination that Blazy has infused into Bottega Veneta’s otherwise typically opulent, understated elegance.
Recent Bottega collections have yielded work boots, the aforementioned flannels, and fur-trimmed aviator jackets, for instance, which all fits well within BV’s humbly luxurious ethos but also advances the labels stylistic inspirations to include more function-inspired fare.
Perhaps the denim-printed silk sets designed for Xin’s dancers are a taste of what Bottega Veneta has planned for Spring/Summer 2024.
Given that its Spring/Summer 2023 collection included leather sweaters and shirts aplenty, some comparatively breathable silk would be a seasonal shift worth dancing about.