Once upon a time, in 1966, 45 years ago, a new atelier opened in Vicenza, in the Veneto region of Italy. Its owners, Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro, founded the brand to produce premier leather goods to satisfy demanding taste of Italian ladies and gentlemen whose genetic love for beauty and craftsmanship was running in their veins together with a need for understated luxury that required no logos to be truly appreciated.
The unmistakable sign of Bottega was not only in the quality, but in the way their products were made. The Intrecciato weave was born when the company’s artisans had to cut buttery soft superfine glove leather into strips to get it through sewing machines originally designed to stich fabric. The new technique made the leather more durable for accessories and distinctive crosshatched pattern became a signature mark of Bottega Veneta.
As the time went by the reputation of “Venetian Atelier” and its super-soft, sensuous, handcrafted handbags continued to grow. The brand was becoming one of the most refined and respected fashion houses in Italy. In the 1970s, the new motto “When your own initials are enough” increased the popularity and sales even more.
Bottega Veneta was now loved around the world and found its fans among Studio 54 crowd including Andy Warhol who later made a short movie about the brand.
Things, however, started to change when Renzo Zengiaro decided to leave Bottega Veneta followed by Taddei a few years later. Some say, the departure was caused by commercial pressures to change company’s aesthetics and turn it into yet another logo-driven brand. And so the abandoned house found its new owners in Vittorio and Laura Moltedo who chose to forget about the essence of Bottega and venture into the new trendy industry where products made of nylon were enough to keep new customers happy. Sadly, it didn’t take long for Bottega Veneta to dissolve into brash and loud mass of logo-overloaded brands, its fortunes declined and the company was close to bankruptcy by the end of the 20th century.
It would have been a sad story with a very tearful ending, but one day (and what a fine day it was) a Fairy Godmother appeared from nowhere bearing good news and hopes. Actually, she didn’t look like a fairy at all, but more like Tom Ford, a creative director of Gucci Group who bought the company for $156 million in 2001. The era of quiet luxury was returning.
The newly appointed Tomas Maier joined the company in June that same year. He was a perfect choice for Bottega Veneta. Trained at the institutional Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, the designer has already established himself by working with Sonia Rykiel, Revillon, Hermès other well-regarded fashion houses as well as creating his own brand. In nine years Maier increased Bottega Veneta’s sales by eight hundred per cent and created a beautiful future for the brand starting from a ready-to-wear lines for women and men that were launched in 2002, jewellery collection - in 2004, furniture and home accessories – in 2006 and perfume – in 2011.
And so the story continued… making an unforgettable history of timeless style and impeccable taste that never go out of fashion because Bottega Veneta is so much more than that.
Photo sources: Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2007, Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2006, Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2004 campaign (photography: Robin Broadbent), Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2009, Bottega Veneta Spring/Summer 2011, Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2006, Tomas Maier & Julia Stegner in Elle US December 2011 (photography: Mona Kuhn, styling: Kate Lanphear), Bottega Veneta Spring/Summer 2004 campaign (photography: Robin Broadbent)