The Kering-owned luxury label took to the Red Brick Art Museum for its China runway debut. An established private art institute in the suburbs of Beijing, the museum is an architectural marvel constructed with endless bricks, which easily evokes the Intrecciato, the brand’s signature leather weaving.
“What I liked the most is that the construction itself is very logical,” said Matthieu Blazy, the fashion house’s creative director, of the choice of show venue. “It combines craft, modernism, and the past.”
For Blazy, hosting a show in Beijing was a chance to recall a past experience: The designer visited the Chinese capital during a family trip 18 years ago as a young teenager.
“China has changed a lot, but the energy’s great, which was so wonderful to see,” said Blazy, who’s staying in China for an extra few days for some proper sightseeing, which includes climbing the Great Wall, where Bottega created an installation to celebrate Chinese New Year in 2022.
The coed display on Thursday night featured familiar faces on the Milan runway, such as Paola Manes, Emma Balfour, Chu Wong, Liu Wen, as well as other famous Asian faces, such as Ling Tan, Soojoo Park, Daisuke Ueda, He Cong, Zhao Lei, Wang Wenqin, and Du Juan.
Blazy set craft in motion with additional looks for the restyled show, including a burgundy Intrecciato shirt that came with matching pants and a column dress with cascading soft leather florals. The brand’s popular Andiamo bag was on prominent display, now realized in red and slate, a color reminiscent of gray brick walls often found in Hutongs of old Beijing.
The event assembled more than 400 guests, including celebrities, fixtures in the local art scene as well as the brand’s VIP clients. Around 20 Asian stars, including Chinese actresses Angelababy and Dong Jie; the Japanese American singer Mika Hashizume; C-pop icon Stefanie Sun; Chinese actor Jin Boran; Thai actress Pimchanok Leuwisetpaibul, and actor Dew Jirawat Sutivanichsak sat front row.
“Such an exacting and warming experience, as expressed via multiple leather treatments, makes you forget the sweltering Beijing heat,” enthused Beijing-based artist Tao Hui.
“Bottega is always next level,” added Teresa Cheung. “I want to take home the chair [Superleggera Chair by Gio Ponti], the lamp [The Luminator Floor Lamp], the dotted carpet.”
The high-energy event was livestreamed on Weibo and Wechat, which generated more than 36 million views combined. According to data from a local tracking agency, at the time of publishing, the Wechat livestream became the highest-ranking event in the luxury category since May.
“Hosting a show is the most formal and straightforward way to connect with the local audience and its shoppers,” said Leaf Greener, the editor-turned-fashion consultant. Greener also helped Bottega produce a teaser video featuring personalities from Beijng’s creative scene. “We want to start a dialogue around the event itself but also explore the power of culture influences,” added Greener.
The teaser also hints at the next installment of The Square, an art program that recently traveled to São Paulo, Brazil. “It’s a subject we have on the table. I don’t know if it will be here in Beijing or somewhere else; China is so big, and I want to also explore other territories,” said Blazy. “I’m a big fan of contemporary art in China, it is something that is developing and I want to meet the people creating this kind of new dynamic in China.”
After the show, the museum’s outdoor garden was transformed into a party scene with sets performed by house favorites such as Crystallmess and Vegyn.
Apart from connecting with the Chinese audience on a more visceral level, the show was a chance for Bottega Veneta to renew sales momentum by courting major spenders in one of the top-performing markets in China.
On Friday, VIP customers were invited to attend a re-see at the museum. Pieces from the fall collection could be ordered on the spot, then delivered in August. A VIP dinner party ended the two-day Bottega frenzy on a high note.
Bottega Veneta recently reshuffled management in China by promoting Dario Gargiulo to chief executive officer of Greater China to elevate the brand positioning and client experience in the region.
Samuel Diep, currently chief merchandising officer, has been promoted to chief merchandising and marketing officer, tasked with further strengthening the alignment between product and brand strategies.
Ellen Kim, currently CEO of Japan-Guam and South Korea, has been promoted to the position of CEO of the newly formed APAC region.
On the retail end, Bottega Veneta counts 51 doors in Mainland China. In June, the brand opened a new store in Fuzhou, a second-tier city in Fujian province.
To further leverage the buzz generated by the show, Bottega will launch its Qixi campaign next week, according to a brand spokesperson.