Sometimes, when you work as a fashion journo, you stumble across a little style trivia so good you wonder how you’d ever survived seasons of riveting fashion week front row guest chat without it.
Example, me today learning the savvy reason behind luxury design house Bottega Veneta’s most famous design signature: its weave, or intrecciato if you’re using the technique’s official, albeit perhaps tricky-to-pronounce-properly, moniker.
Ask any designer fashion afficianado and they’ll tell you intrecciato is as synonymous with the Italian brand as quilting is for Chanel or the Juste un Clou nail design for Cartier.
Essentially, it’s the brand handwriting. Spot-it-from-across-the-room stuff, which is handy given the label’s commitment to the principle of never showing off visible logos. (Rare these days for any fashion product that require a significant financial commitment, but such is Bottega Veneta’s commitment to craftsmanship and understated style.)
Which brings me back to the concept of intrecciato and how it came about (aka fashion trivia gold). The technique was developed by Bottega Veneta in the 1960s as a product of the namesake environment that housed its headquarters, the Veneto region in the north east of Italy.
Back then the area was famous for producing ready-to-wear, so the sewing machines in the ateliers and workshops were designed to suit clothing, meaning they could only manage very thin leather. Bottega Veneta, a brand centred around luxurious leather pieces, then created a technique to weave this thin leather together into thicker, more durable pieces.
What sparked my interest in this intrecciato in the first place was seeing artisans practicing it first hand at the invite-only, interactive Masters of Craft event held at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne on November 30.
Throughout the evening, which was dedicated to the brand’s heritage and fine craftsmanship, VIP guests could hold signature bags and clutches from current collections and the archives, and watch artisans flown from the now famous Montebello Vicentino headquarters create bags using the intrecciato technique and beyond.
While a definite first for Australia, the event mirrored similar events held over recent years in designer customer hotspots like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dubai. The fact Melbourne now joins their ranks suggests Bottega Veneta rate both the style set and customer base potential of Australia and the city in parcicular.
GALLERY: MAKING OF THE ICONIC KNOT BAG
To talk about intrecciato without mentioning the modern location it’s practiced would be amiss. In fact, to wash past any opportunity to picture the brand’s incredible atelier in Montebello Vicentino, 18 kilometres from Vicenza, would be a crime.
Situated in an 18th century villa on vast parklands, the modernised building contains an annex that is as elegant and beautifully minimalist as the goods created there. Almost 300 people work at the postcard-worthy facility, which ticks an impressive number of environmental boxes and is as innovative as it is pretty.
Little wonder such a creative space bears iconic bag fruit. Some of Bottega Veneta’s most recognisable, best-selling bags – like the iconic Knot box clutch created by Tomas Maier in 2001 – are hand-produced here.
Likewise, the first bag Tomas Maier designed when he joined Bottega Veneta, then presented as part of the Spring Summer 2002 collection, the Cabat. Designed to be as beautiful on the inside as it looked on the outside, it’s woven by hand from strips of double-faced leather. So laborious is the process, only a limited number are crafted each year in the Montebello Vicentino HQ.
This season, Intrecciato appears, albeit in a fresh guise, as part of the Cruise 2019 collection, too. A brand new style of crossbody bag, called the BV Luna, has an elliptical clasp that hints at the Knot legacy. The pieces of intrecciato leather were inspired by the grassy lawn area at the centre of Prato della Valle in Padova, one of the biggest town squares in Europe.
GALLERY: THE CRUISE 2018 ACCESSORIES Featuring INTRECCIATO
There are also smaller accessories like coin purses and mini wallets that slide onto belt loops and bag straps made of the signature woven leather, along with intrecciato mini bags too. So says the brand says in its official Cruise 2019 notes:
“More than ever, women’s handbags celebrate the individualism that is essential to Bottega Veneta.”
It’s a notion GRAZIA’s always subscribed to – making a statement with your handbag – but what makes Bottega’s offering different is that the products speak for themselves over time, rather than scream for short-lived attention.
After all, sometimes even the flashiest logo doesn’t live up to the hype.
GALLERY: every look in the BOTTEGA VENETA CRUISE 2018 COLLECTION