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Article: Bottega Veneta bags: Living legends of craftsmanship

Bottega Veneta bags: Living legends of craftsmanship

When Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro founded Bottega Veneta in 1966, launching it the following year, they had a clear vision: to make craftsmanship their brand's hallmark. Over 50 years later, Bottega Veneta handbags have become the brand's icon. Their design is flawless, their construction masterful, and their finish unmistakable.

The brand's handbags tell stories. Stories of the house, its creative directors, unforgettable moments for the brand, and more. They also speak of persistence and effort, sustaining the soul of the house through a past with a challenging origin. In the 70s and 80s, shortly after getting the brand off the ground, Taddei and Zengiaro considered abandoning the project.


The Power of Persistence

Both had already overcome their initial limitations, inventing a new leather weaving technique that allowed them to work with the machinery they had. Their legacy: the intrecciato. This would become the main symbol of the brand, beyond logos (or their absence), nomenclatures, or imagery. The intrecciato, a unique braiding of the brand's leather, gave the firm an initial boost to become a favourite among Western elites. Jackie Kennedy and Andy Warhol were among its biggest fans, but things would not be entirely easy for Bottega at first.

Its excessive discretion and general public ignorance outside of the jet set, combined with a preference for the exuberant and excessive fashion of the 80s, led to losses for the brand to the point of wanting to abandon it. But then, Taddei's wife, Laura Moltedo, took the reins of the brand with the idea:

If we work consistently, our time will come.

Her philosophy is not just a great personal growth motto but responsible for one of the brands that has defined 21st-century fashion. After launching a ready-to-wear line in the 90s for the brand, briefly featuring the work of Giles Deacon, and from 2001 with Tomas Maier, Bottega began its legendary rise.



The Cabat and the Knot

Launched in 2001 to become a symbol of the brand, the Bottega Veneta Cabat bag was the first handbag designed by Tomas Maier, and the first with its own name. This model has been with the brand since its first appearance and consists of a generally monochrome hand-woven tote using the brand's intrecciato. Its different sizes and spacious design soon made it a favourite of the jet set, but Maier's work would go much further.

Tomas Maier's entry into Bottega Veneta was crucial to establishing the foundations of the current Bottega. Continuing the ready-to-wear of the brand initiated by Laura Moltedo, Maier wanted to focus the house's attention on its artisanal process made in Italy, and to achieve this, he founded the first school for future Bottega artisans. Since then, the handbags we carry and display in stores today are handmade by personnel trained at the brand's craftsmanship school.

Tomas established one of the two unmistakable symbols of the brand: the knot. This metal knot is an ode to the house's commitment to craftsmanship, where all its accessories are carefully handcrafted. This emblem would become key in the house to the present day, naming a handbag (the well-known Bottega Veneta Knot clutch), adorning multiple pieces of the house, and even serving as the cap for the house's first perfume.


The Cassette, the Pouch, the Lauren, and the Jodie

The appointment of Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta (2018) was the key point for the firm to go from a discreet icon to a reference in popular culture. The timing and association with celebrities of the moment quickly turned the brand into a success. And, evidently, the new generation of Bottega Veneta handbags was largely responsible for this ascent.

It was here when some of the handbags you might recognize the quickest emerged. In Daniel Lee's first collection for Bottega Veneta, in February 2019, we met the Bottega Veneta Cassette bag and the Pouch. Both an instant sales success, we saw them in the hands of the great muses of the industry.

Shortly after, we met the Jodie bag, a model reimagined from the Tomas Maier era. On one occasion, Jodie Foster covered her face from the paparazzi with a Bottega hobo-style bag. This moment was named the new Jodie bag from Bottega. The Jodie is a reinterpretation of a classic shoulder bag of the firm with a slouchy shape. A knot was added to the handle, and it was launched in various sizes, from mini to maxi, with up to 4 variations in between.

The Cassette bag has also undergone many revisions, with all kinds of finishes, fabrics, and formats, but always maintaining a recognizable design. It is a shoulder or crossbody bag that is very easy to carry, spacious, and recognizable.

In 2020, we saw a relaunch of another classic: the Bottega Veneta Lauren 1980. This bag is named after the movie "American Gigolo," in which actress Lauren Hutton carried a Bottega bag with an identical design. It is a versatile and luxurious handbag, excellent as a city day bag or as a party bag.

The famous Bottega Arco came out in 2019 from the hand of Daniel Lee, launched in various sizes and materials. The central model is a tote bag with a leather tie closure, usually with a pouch of the same colour as a complement. Today, it has become a classic of the house.


The Sardine, the Andiamo, the Hop, and the Kalimero

With the arrival of Matthieu Blazy in 2022, there was the release of the first viral bag from the designer: the Sardine bag. Handcrafted in a half-moon shape with a metal handle in the shape of a sardine that gives it its name, it is a bag that has already become a symbol of the new Bottega since its launch.

In the first collection, we also met the Kalimero, a bag made of leather/scarf fabric with wide fibres, giving it an artisanal, rougher, and unique look.

The Hop and the Andiamo came out at the end of 2022, and quickly became indispensable in 2023. The Bottega Andiamo, (in Italian, "let's go"), led the new trend of maxi bags. Thanks to its three sizes, all spacious, adorned by the famous knot and a shoulder handle, the bag lives up to its name by being ideal for daily use and for travelling.

The Hop bag pays homage to the relaxed silhouettes of bags like the original Jodie, but with an angular base and a triangular design. The triangle, as a symbol of the house (it represents the V of Veneta), is present in the design and hardware of some of these bags, as in the case of the Cassette.

Thus, the traditional techniques of the firm have become the key point of the house. With the intrecciato at the centre and a long journey in material research, the brand remains at the forefront of the industry for its innovative design. All rooted in a deep love for craftsmanship.

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