Story Behind The Picture: Bottega Veneta, Vintage Vogue And Other Thoughts On Fashion

Vogue UK August 1957 and Bottega Veneta chain pouch bag

I took this still life photo in 2020, a year that for the entire world was marked by the pandemic and was particularly hard on the fashion industry. At that time, various lockdowns were taking place, most of us were working from home, and being a photography enthusiast for as long as I can remember (as I wrote about in my article dedicated to photography), the long moments of inactivity due to that phase really allowed me to get in touch with my creative side. In fact, it was in 2020 that I opened my Flickr account and photography was one of the few things that kept me sane during a time that was incredibly difficult for everyone. 

I wanted to capture on camera my Bottega Veneta chain pouch bag together with a vintage issue of Vogue UK that I purchased a few years earlier on eBay because I often enjoy creating new compositions and I found it interesting to compare the old with the new in order to create a sort of contrast; a Vogue UK issue from August 1957 paired with one of the new symbols of the Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta, a pouch clutch developed in 2018 by former creative director Daniel Lee that quickly became the best-selling bag in the brand’s history. Lee was essential in the development of Bottega Veneta’s ready-to-wear production; although he retained the brand’s iconic features, first and foremost the Intrecciato, at the same time he was able to give a fresher image to Bottega Veneta’s signature products, especially the bags. He kept focusing on high craftsmanship techniques and products that can be included in what is now called quiet luxury, a style characterized by the absence of a logo identifying the brand; Daniel Lee managed to accomplish this in a short period of time (he left the helm of the brand at the end of 2021, replaced by Matthieu Blazy, and is now creative director of Burberry), but he still brought to life the expression “New Bottega” because of the different way the brand was perceived and the aura of desirability that Bottega Veneta products acquired. 

Since I am a fashion industry professional (both as a fashion consultant and as a buying agent), I always try to get informed about fashion news and other different currents of thought in the industry, including fashion trends. I have never been one to follow trends at any cost, although I appreciate what certain trends can bring to an individual’s wardrobe in terms of personal style and self-discovery, so I was pleasantly surprised when last month I read an article in the Italian magazine Rivista Studio explaining how the succession of micro-trends in recent years (see Cottage-core, Ballet-core and others) has led most people to want to discover and maintain a personal style. We have thus found ourselves chasing the desire to build a long-term identifying wardrobe, aiming first and foremost for practicality and self-expression. The article quotes Tibi’s creative director Amy Smilovic, who has fully embraced what is called the “Three Words Method”; “choosing a series of looks that you like, looking at their touch-points and drawing up a list of identifying adjectives.” Simply put, what we wear should reflect our personal taste and make us feel comfortable in our own skin.

I think I have experienced the downside of trends firsthand, especially during my high school years; I would often end up wearing clothes that did not suit me and did not fully reflect my personality just because I had seen them worn by other girls in my peer group. This can easily lead to personal dissatisfaction and as a result people tend to discard clothes, fueling the fast fashion phenomenon whereby a series of impulsively purchased garments end up in landfills and contribute to making fashion the second most polluting industry in the world (after the oil industry). Nowadays I believe it is necessary to deeply think about what we purchase, aiming for quality instead of quantity, searching for classic and timeless garments that will become cornerstones of one’s personal style. I have realized that my philosophy is now following the method of stylist Allison Bornstein, who was included in the above-mentioned article; before a fashion purchase she usually asks herself, “Would I have worn that piece months ago? Would I want to wear it a year from now? If it came back in fashion in five years, would I want to wear that same item again?” If the answer to all three questions is yes, you should probably go ahead and buy the product; it is right to follow these guidelines and carefully evaluate the items you are buying so as to reduce waste. In this regard, it is also wise to nurture the concept of circular fashion; thanks to secondhand thrift shops and online stores such as Vestiaire Collective, it is possible to resell items we no longer wear, which is helpful in reducing waste as well. 

There are undoubtedly some “healthier” trends and ways of dressing we may follow; this is the case with quiet luxury, which favors classic and seemingly basic clothes, far from the ostentation of flashy logos and other key symbols associated with brands. The quiet luxury trend is linked to a minimal aesthetic that focuses primarily on quality fabrics and a neutral palette while promoting the concept of investing in key wardrobe elements that will last a lifetime. Numerous brands embody the idea of quiet luxury, such as Khaite, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Saint Laurent, Loro Piana, Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren. 

Trends like this are undoubtedly more environmentally friendly than others and emphasize the need to revolutionize and rethink the fashion industry; if we want to be sustainable, we should make good choices when buying our clothes, investing in quality pieces and staying away from the fast-fashion mentality, which finds its roots on excessive consumerism, with people buying too many clothes and throwing them away after only a few weeks or months. Fast fashion has an extremely detrimental impact on the environment; according to, “of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 92 million tons end up in landfills. This means that the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second. If the trend continues, the number of fast fashion waste is expected to soar up to 134 million tonnes a year by the end of the decade.” I highly suggest you watch the video essay “How We Really Stop Fast Fashion” on Our Changing Climate channel, which explains in details the planetary cost of fast fashion and suggests possible solutions to this issue. “A future not reliant on worker exploitation, pollution or waste is one in which the workers laboring in textile factories communally decide what gets made. A factory where the designers are the workers and the workers are the designers.” 

Flipping through the pages of Vogue UK August 1957, with its iconic fuchsia cover, it is quite clear how fashion has changed over the decades. The main editorial is dedicated to the color fuchsia and consists of a series of pages full of beautiful design sketches. The tweed suit in fuchsia pink on the cover of Vogue is typical of the first ready-to-wear collection designed by John Cavanagh for Berg of Mayfair. 

The shapes of the suits for Fall 1957 were inspired by Parisian fashion and were especially influenced by Christian Dior’s New Look, which was very popular in the 1950s. Many designs with shapely busts and models wearing full, flowing skirts are featured within the pages of this vintage issue. There is also a “More Taste Than Money” photoshoot that is the epitome of sophistication and grace. The editorial of a fall preview, with raincoats in classic shapes and knitted dresses. Long backless dresses, perfect for gala nights. What really shines through these pages is a sense of feminine elegance and beauty. I believe elegance is key and so is individuality. I am convinced that, even in the fashion industry, where people often tend to conform to a certain trend of the moment, individuality must prevail; in an age of sponsorships and paid partnerships, it is right to know thoroughly what one is inclined to buy so as to assess whether a product is right for us. 

I have recently read blogger and entrepreneur Kristina Bazan’s first book, titled “Kayture On The Go” (it is currently out of print and was published in 2015 only in French, so it is imperative to know the language or have a translator if you are interested in reading it). I found it incredibly enthralling; although she gives advice on different areas of one’s life (from makeup to wardrobe), she is keen to emphasize several times how those are simply suggestions to be inspired by, while everyone should go on to find their own style and beauty tips to live by because we are all different and our diversity can serve to influence each other in a positive way and lead us to improve ourselves and the world around us. Kristina Bazan promotes a different way of blogging and engaging in entrepreneurial projects, taking into account individual inclinations and abilities while respecting ourselves and other people, and this is how I have decided to approach my work. I particularly appreciate Kristina’s vision; she has distanced herself from her beginnings as a fashion blogger, dedicating herself to music and spirituality and having a holistic approach towards life, as can be seen in her portal, defined as “an online destination for holistic inspiration, wisdom and serenity.” I look forward to reading her new nonfiction book titled: “Through The Veils of Mystery”, which has been published in English and it is definitely a more introspective and spiritual book than her previous one. Her evolution is the perfect example of how in life we should never stop learning and expanding, even to the point of reinventing ourselves.

 The love of fashion and beauty does not have to be detached from our inner self, but can definitely be integrated with something more spiritual that makes us better people who live in harmony with themselves and other human beings. It is about becoming the best version of ourselves that we can be. 

Additional notes: 

Some of my thoughts are a consequence of reading the article, “Quanto Ci Hanno Stancato I Trend” (How Tired We Have Become Of Trends), published on April 26, 2023 on the Italian magazine Rivista Studio.

The Youtube channel Our Changing Climate and always provide insightful information on climate change and issues like fast fashion and emissions. These educational tools are essential in analyzing how we humans connect with the natural world and in embracing all possible solutions to the climate and environmental crisis. 

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