Bottega Veneta is for people whose own initials are enough. (OK, for those whose own initials and bank balance are enough.) Founded in Vicenza, Italy, in 1966 by Vittorio and Laura Moltedo as a family-owned leather-goods business, the little house that could first built its reputation among the seventies jet set with deliciously soft handbags. With their signature intrecciato weave, they boasted no logo, just a discreet seal inside the bag.
After those early heady days, there was a long lull in Bottega's influencein fact, by the early nineties, the brand had all but disappeared from the fashion radarbut over the past decade it has transformed itself from an elite purveyor of accessories into a major lifestyle brand, offering clothes for men and women, fine jewelry, and even furniture. In 1998, the Moltedos began to generate media buzz when they introduced flashy ready-to-wear by the British designer Giles Deacon and stylist Katie Grand. Then in 2001, when the Gucci Group acquired the label and installed Tomas Maier, formerly of Hermès, as creative director, the house's campaign to regain its former prominence truly took flight.
Since debuting for Spring 2002, Maier has solidified Bottega's reputation for understated luxurywhat one critic called "twenty-first-century no-logo stealth wealth." From tailored pantsuits to romantic goddess dresses, Maier's feminine designs stick to the traditional Bottega Veneta aesthetic: simple, tasteful, and unfailingly elegant. The accessories, also under Maier's guidance, have never left center stage, though today's intrecciato deviates slightly from the classic look, coming in a variety of colors and materials like oxidized leather or tinted lizard. (The collectible Cabat bag, priced around $4,700, can run up to $78,000 for a special order.)
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