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Bottega Veneta Women’s SS18 Collection

Bottega Veneta’s Spring/Summer 2018 Women’s collection began with their perennial starting point: colour.

The optimistic palette draws from the Marble Room at Kedleston Hall, a grand Palladian-style country house by British architect Robert Adam: the delicate rose of its walls, the ocean-blue in its frescoes and the rich array of swirling hues in its soaring Corinthian marble columns. The season’s new venue, Palazzo Archinto, a former residence built between 1830 and 1847- now a school, echoes the neoclassical style in a signature Italian way. “It’s very playful,” says creative director Tomas Maier. “It reflects the mood of the collection.”

A deep sense of contrast defines their women’s ready-to-wear collection. Silhouettes are clean and utilitarian, with echoes of work-wear in patch-pocket jackets. “It’s all these easy pieces,” says Mr. Maier. “Even the long dresses are like T-shirts.” The simplicity is juxtaposed with exquisite embellishment. The visually delightful studding of jewels, mirrors and metal eyelets used throughout is labour-intensive, each one painstakingly placed by hand. Elsewhere, fringe is strung with tiny glass beads; exotic skins are used in appliqué and trim. There are yet more opposing forces in a group of airy shirt-dresses cut in subtly iridescent silk from a storied Italian mill.

The lively palette extends to handbags, the BV73, a top-handle bag inspired by a 1973 style found in the archive, is recast in hand-painted python and dappled carrara calf in dahlia, mist and camomile. It’s crafted to be nearly weightless; the three styles- a Messenger, Tote and Cross-Body have a signature soft construction, and are highly functional with multiple straps and pockets. The Knot family has been updated with three-dimensional craftsmanship in bags such as the Wing-Tip City Knot, the Spheres Clutch Knot and the Komodo Knot.

Shoes are more of an item than an afterthought, which are in a kaleidoscopic mix of shiny Napa, suede and velvet; the low-heel d’Orsay styles merge the Palio detail from the handbags with the jewels, studs and eyelets of the ready-to-wear. This season, Bottega Veneta celebrates its iconic tagline “When Your Own Initials Are Enough” with an exceptional new personalisation program. For women, the Palio Tote and BV73 come with stitched croc or leather letters, in a sophisticated tone-on-tone.

With the warm, welcoming sensibility of a home, the galleries of Palazzo Archinto offer an ideal setting to take in the scope of the entire spring collection. “It’s a big show but it’s very intimate,” says Mr. Maier. “It goes room by room.”