02 Mar

The padded Cassette bag is one of Bottega Veneta's most popular and recognizable staples. But functional and stylish though the accessory may be, the Italian fashion label wants us to think beyond its iconic padded woven leather, and its Fall 2023 collection is a testament to this. Not only did the brand display a memorable lineup of ensembles, but it also offered up a veritable parade of new handbags, piling the accessories on with abandon.

The runway show opened in Milan with a cream-colored translucent slip dress, airy as ever, styled with cable-knit boots and a diminutive handheld purse. But that was just a tease. What followed made this collection an instant favorite from Milan Fashion Week.

Bottega Creative Director Matthieu Blazy's silhouettes are innovative and exciting the whole way though: It's not just about the shape of the garments, which includes free-flowing cuts, oversized masculine tailoring and hip-accentuating moments — it's also about the details. Inflated collars are paired with peplums to alter the shape of the body. A long coat with fringe on its bottom half animates every step. One turtleneck in particular is textured in a way that looks like dinosaur scales. A woven high-neck dress looks like it should win the (imaginary) Guinness World Record for the most comfortable outfit ever shown on a runway.

While the collection's color palette leans heavily neutral, it's accented with surprising and pleasant pops of color — acid green and butter yellow are the best examples. The materials, which vary across the looks but clearly emphasize exotics, also contribute to the overall impact of the collection: ostrich skin, fringe-like use of feathers and a burnt red alligator trench are among several standouts.

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