Bottega Veneta: The Hand of the Artisan
Occasionally, working at London College of Fashion, UAL, means I get to do some really interesting and rather exclusive things. A group of students and staff from the College were invited by Bottega Veneta to visit their event ‘The Hand of the Artisan’ at Chiswick House in London – one of the finest examples of neo-Palladian villas in England – to watch some of their artisans at work and learn about how Bottega Veneta bags, footwear, jewellery and fragrance is made.
There had been a VIP party the night before, but the morning we attended was far better in my opinion as the bright sunshine flooded the rooms. The brand’s aim for the event was to bring their heritage and ateliers to London (usually located in Montebello near Vicenza), creating an immersive and memorable experience.
“It will be a journey through our leather, fragrances and jewellery crafts in presence of our artisans at work, a product installation showcasing our icons, a taste of the Veneto with a Venetian inspired menu by Michelin star chef Giorgio Locatelli and prosecco tasting sessions. Guests will also have the unique possibility to try and weave with the artisans.”
They couldn’t have chosen a better location and the weather was perfect – it almost felt like we were visiting them in Italy! Upon arrival, we were ushered through to a beautiful bar area in the garden for drinks, before a tour guide came to collect small groups and show us around the exhibits and demonstrations in the main house.
We started upstairs, with a beautiful room displaying botanical footwear and bags over a small garden of fresh flowers. Our tour guide explained how each piece was made and answered any questions we had. Touching the butter-soft leather on the inside of one of the clutch bags made me fully realise how expensive they must be. Far outside my budget, but then I rarely go to events where a clutch is all that’s required anyway!
Next we went through to a room with a mirrored display of bags made out of Bottega Veneta’s signature woven leather. Our tour guide explained the inspiration behind the Cabat tote bag, and there’s a bit more information about that on the website too:
“The Cabat was the first bag designed by Creative Director Tomas Maier upon his arrival at the house in 2001 and the first example of his creative collaboration with the artisans: Mr Maier had in mind a simple rectangular tote of intrecciato, absolutely soft and collapsible, uniquely seamless and frameless, yet capable of standing on its own when empty.”
The inside doesn’t need to be lined, because it’s just as beautiful as the outside! (I wasn’t terribly keen on some of the embellished versions though, like the one in the picture below.)
After a look at the jewel encrusted clutch bags, we got to find out how their jewellery is made. Huge crystals are fixed in solid hand finished settings made from precious metals (check out the video on their website for a look at how much work goes into this), and we discovered that any rings or bangles that appeared to be woven, really were woven… by hand, in silver.
After watching two artisans who had worked at Bottega Veneta for over a decade, as they wove leather for bags and accessories, I ducked into the room where all fragrances in the Parco Palladiano collection were beautifully displayed and available to test. Each fragrance in the collection is designed to capture a particular moment or experience in a Palladian garden at springtime, and I got to speak to one of the perfumers who created a number of these beautiful scents.
It was an informative and beautiful event, which certainly gave our group the memorable experience that the brand was looking for. Thanks very much to Bottega Veneta for inviting us. I’ll end this post with a video from the celeb-filled party, which gives you even more of an idea of how stunning the setting was.