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Bottega Veneta's Campy Boot Camp

Godfrey Deeny
January 17th, 2010 @ 00:59 AM - Milan

Posh militarism and a longing for the early days of rock and roll were two key themes in the latest collection from Bottega Veneta, Italy's fastest growing luxury fashion brand and, therefore, a good bellwether of fashion's future.

There was a large, and loud, disconnect between the fashion and styling at its latest runway in Milan on Sunday, Jan. 17, so distant was the assured and innovative quality of the clothes from the awkwardly presented and jarringly styled event.

The collection was neatly divided into two halves - the opening all about hipster militarism, the finale devoted to 1950s Teddy Boy poseurs and posh punks – and certainly crammed full of clever ideas and great clothes. However, the way the clothes were sent out frequently looked foolish, almost farcical.

The program notes might have heralded the collection for its “discretion,” but how discreet is sending out male models in flight mechanics looks, when the choice of color is bright purple? And, while one had to love the khaki green hooded safari looks, why put them on men, whose waxed hair is woven into tight braids? Apparently it's because these are soldiers, who wear skimpy cardigans and tie-dyed T-shirts underneath their parachute fabric training jackets.

Through the show's first half, there was a sense of an army battalion gearing up for a Friday night dance party; but if this was a boot camp, it was a very, very campy boot camp.

Bottega Veneta's creative director Tomas Maier has an extremely fertile mind, and whipped up some great crumpled rockabilly chalk stripe suits, worn with the shoe of the Milan season so far – the thick soled brothel creeper, all the better to quietly sneak home, without waking up an illicit date.

“BV's goal is always to expand the visual language of fashion, adding individuality and expression,” said Maier, and he was true to his word. Delivering beautiful irregular jacquard smoking jackets worn with jeans, white socks and, the aforementioned brothel creepers, expensively prepared in posh punk crocodile.

If there was any contemporary icon who marched through this show it was Nick Cave, the gravel voiced Australian rocker, whose clever prose and drink-addled poetry was in sync with this thought-provoking collection. In a word, it was off beat, but also a little off kilter.

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