Bottega Veneta’s Matthieu Blazy Is Taking Artisanal Craft in a New Direction #Bottega #Venetas #Matthieu #Blazy #Artisanal #Craft #Direction Welcome to Viasildes, here is the new story we have for you today:
When Blazy and Mulier took the helms, respectively, of Bottega Veneta and Alaïa in 2021, the new roles brought new pressures to their shared life. “Let’s say it’s not the easiest. Sometimes I don’t see him for three weeks or for a month,” Mulier says. “We’ve always worked together for each other’s goals, and it’s quite peculiar that we realized our dreams at the same moment.” The two of them always worked long hours, too, but now the public—and the corporate—perception of success or failure hung from their names. They knew the stakes. In 2016, Blazy and Mulier moved to New York to join Simons at Calvin Klein, where he’d been hired as chief creative officer. The label was a behemoth, with a fast churn of collections; Blazy and Mulier designed piece after piece and helped launch its redesigned flagship, at 654 Madison Avenue.
In 2018, though, tension between Simons and the brand’s corporate leaders brought the project to a sudden halt, and Blazy and Mulier, who had been excited by the notion of making interesting, ambitious fashion work for a mass audience, left not merely disappointed but creatively demoralized. Blazy took time off, unsure whether to continue in the trade. “I was really questioning: Why do you like to do this job? Why did I start in this job?” He went out to Los Angeles to visit Sterling Ruby and his wife, Melanie Schiff, who were making clothing, and pitched in.
“The pleasure of just making—just working on clothes and silhouette without any commercial idea,” Blazy recalls, “really got me back on track.” What he needed, he realized, was to work at a label where craft and quality were never out of view; where the consumer engine was driven by innovation and seduction, not the retail gearbox. Bottega Veneta became his path back, and by the time he became creative director, he knew his mission. He had seen how brands chasing in-groups could lose sight of the shore, so his label would keep one foot on tradition and the other on open-ended experiment: an artist’s path toward the new. He had seen how global commerce could blur toward anodyne indistinction, so he would play up Bottega Veneta’s Italian roots.
“When I took over the job, I sat with the team—designers, but also people at the company for 20 years—and asked ourselves a simple question: ‘What is Bottega?’ ” he says. “ ‘What is craft, and where does it sit in tradition? How can we bring modernity?’ We didn’t talk about shape. We didn’t talk about image. It was the feeling of the brand.” Know where you started, he thought, and you could go anywhere.
In Milan, Blazy wakes early and walks to the office, stopping with John John at the dog park on the way. He loves to walk (he can go weeks without stepping into a car) and likes to smoke (Marlboro Golds), and the bustling sidewalks get his mind going. He tries to be at his desk soon after 8 a.m.—he works best in the morning—and usually doesn’t leave before 8 p.m. “By then, my brain is burned,” he says. One day, he interrupts his work to meet me at the Bottega Veneta showroom in the shadow of the National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci, where his newest garments hang on carefully curated racks. “I like when clothes look kind of architectural—they should look *** on the hanger,” says Blazy, whose notion of retail appeal is highly physical: a pang of irresistible desire you feel when you hold the thing in your hand or see it rush past you, not—his horror—rendered flat and filtered on Instagram.
Inside the space, models, many from the runway, trace L-shapes onto a central corridor. Blazy finds himself unable to function in pure silence or solitude (“I never work from home—I can’t,” he says) and visibly enjoys the motion of it all, pausing mid-sentence to admire the flow of a dress accelerating down the center line. At La Cambre, he learned to design in the round, and this is how he still works: starting with a pile of interesting fabrics, studying how pieces move and feel, and refining until each garment comes alive.
“When I took over the job, I sat with the team and asked ourselves a simple question: What is craft, and where does it sit in tradition? How can we bring modernity? We didn’t talk about shape. We didn’t talk about image. It was the feeling”
“If something becomes too worked or isn’t moving, I get bored,” he tells me. “And if it’s changing too much—if it becomes the idea of someone else, or neither her nor my idea—I’m like, Why are we doing this? I’d rather kill the idea.”
This intuitive approach produces results at once unprecious and unexpected. Blazy is known for setting patterns at unusual angles, substituting unorthodox fabrics, and cutting unconventional forms that, on the human body, drape in beautiful and naturalistic ways. “The clothes aren’t necessarily your first idea of what might be flattering,” says Collier. “And then they are, incredibly.”
As we wander the showroom, Blazy pulls a bag off the shelf. “You see the master craftsmanship,” he says. “It has no seams.”
JUST FOR KICKS
Model Mao Xiaoxing does a quick cancan in a Bottega Veneta sweater, wildly fringed skirt, purple pumps, and earrings.
Photographed by Rafael Pavarotti, Vogue, September 2022.