Bottega Veneta Intrecciato

Bottega Veneta was established in 1966 by Vittorio and Laura Moltedo in Vincenza, a town in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy.  The name “Bottega Veneta” means Venetian shop.

Vinvenza Italy

The company began by manufacturing artisanal leather accessories.  Great things are borne out of necessity and such was the case when the artisans at Bottega Veneta conceived the “intrecciato” or woven style of making leather goods.

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Intrecciato – interlocking strips of leather

At the time of the company’s inception in the 1960s, Vincenza was known for manufacturing ready-to-wear.  The factories in the region were outfitted with machines suited for sewing and finishing fabric.  The artists at Bottega Veneta developed intrecciato to accommodate needles in the existing sewing machines.  The technique involved braiding very thin leather strips.   Intrecciato is the Italian word for braided.  The interlocking leather strips re-enforced the durability and enhanced the beauty of the finished piece.

Intrecciato became the signature of the brand thus embedded in its DNA.  Today, it graces Bottega Veneta’s products and packaging.  Collections have expanded to include men and women’s ready to wear, shoes, jewelry, home goods and fragrance.

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While other brands use logos to distinguish their products, Bottega Veneta’s understated intrecciato motif has become synonymous with distinctive styling, quality materials and superior craftsmanship.  The philosophy of the brand is evident in their slogan, “When your own initials are enough”.

In 2001 the Moltedo family sold the company to Gucci (now part of the Kering Group).   Thomas Maier was appointed Creative Director.  Maier can be credited with the revival and expansion of the brand whilst honoring and preserving  it’s cultural and artistic roots.

In September of 2013 Bottega Veneta inaugurated a new state of the art teaching and manufacturing facility – The Villa, Montebello Vicentino.   The facility obtained LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification in the New Construction & Major Renovation category.  This prestigious certification demonstrates the brand’s commitment to employee well being, environmental consciousness and sustainability.

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The Villa Montebello Vicentino

The school housed at the atelier, La Scuola dei Maestri Pellettieri di Bottega Veneta serves as a workshop, where new hires are taught the principles and techniques from master teachers and technicians who have been a part of the Bottega Veneta story since the very beginning.

Thomas Maier recognized that the artisans were Bottega Veneta’s most valuable resource.  He set about to ensure that their knowledge would be valued and preserved for generations to come, thus ensuring the continuation of what the founders began in Vincenza over 50 years ago.

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“It would be a profound loss if the knowledge and cultural wealth embodied in artisanal crafts were to vanish. Such know-how carries precious threads of individual creativity and human history – in this alone, it is irreplaceable. Not only must we save particular knowledge, we must work to ensure that craft continues to thrive in the places where they have roots. Place is essential to craft. Just as local cultural traditions profoundly inform workmanship, so too does the presence of historically rooted craft shape the evolution of local culture.” – Tomas Maier

 

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The Stiletto

Bruno Frisoni for Roger Vivier

Bruno Frisoni for Roger Vivier

I began thinking about the high heel aka the stiletto recently after purchasing a new pair and wearing it to work instead of my usual ballet flats.  Shoes really do help make the woman, I decided, as I sailed through the day on a cloud of compliments from coworkers and customers alike.  Internally, I felt more put together, confident and attractive.  The practicality and comfort of ballet flats were always a selling point for me. I do not like to be hindered or distracted as I go about my day.  Flats allow me to zip around at a fast pace from task to task without a care.

When wearing heels, I move slower, more tentatively out of necessity, in order to stay upright.  They give me the erect posture my mother insisted upon by pulling my shoulders back from their natural hunched forward position. This of course is nothing new, women have worn heels for years in order to achieve just this effect, that of improving the posture and as a result the figure.

If we were to break down the overall effect a woman gets from wearing heels, it would consist of these individual components; heels simulate standing on your tip toes thereby elongating the legs, thrusting the bust forward, the calves and thighs are accentuated as the muscles of the legs remain activated in order to maintain an upright stance.  In heels, the tummy is relegated to the farthest regions of the abdomen, the bottom lifts and the hips perform wide sways from side to side.  In totality, these effects produce an instant boost to a woman’s sex-appeal both physically and mentally.

So who do women have to thank for this amazing invention? As it turns out heels have been worn in one form or another since 4000 BC as evidenced by hieroglyphics found on the walls of Egyptian temples and tombs.  Chopines ca. 1400-1700 made out of wood or cork, embellished with leather, jewel embroidered velvet or brocade were first worn by Venetian courtesans and patrician women alike.

The chopine ca. 1400-1700

The chopine ca. 1400-1700

“Stiletto” is an Italian word meaning small metal dagger, referring to the steel rod encased in every heel of any significant height .  The present day form of stilettos were invented in 1954 by Frenchman, Roger Vivier.  Born in 1907, Vivier studied sculpture and drawing at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. His studies in sculpture and his passion for the theater would later inform and inspire his work in shoe design.

Roger Vivier

Roger Vivier

Vivier was introduced to the business of shoe making when a friend offered him a job at a shoe factory where he learned the basics of the craft.   He subsequently began designing shoes for actors and theater artists of the day such as Josephine Baker for whom he signed his first custom shoe, decorated with sequins and tassels.  His first studio was opened in 1937 at 22 rue Royale in Paris.  At this point, Vivier designed for large shoe companies such as Delman and Bally among others.

During the war, Vivier moved to America to work for Delman.   When leather rationing reduced shoe sales he became an assistant photographer to George Hoyningen-Huene of Vogue.  He returned to Paris in 1947 and continued to draw sketches for well known shoe manufacturers.  In 1955 through 1962 he worked for Christian Dior.  Printed on every shoe he designed for the house of Dior was the inscription “Christian Dior crée par Roger Vivier” making Roger Vivier the only designer name that Christian Dior agreed to have printed alongside his.

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior advertisment

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior advertisment

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior blue satin pump

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior blue satin pump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Roger Vivier for Christian Dior mule

Roger Vivier for Christian Dior mule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June of 1953 Roger Vivier garnered more acclaim by designing the gold kidskin pumps studded with 3,000 garnets for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.  After the death of Christian Dior in 1957, Vivier began collaborating with Dior’s successor, Yves Saint Laurent.  The square heeled pilgrim buckle pump debuted in 1965 in the acclaimed Yves Saint Laurent “Mondrian” collection.

Yves Saint Laurent mondrian collection paired with Roger Vivier pilgrim shoes

Yves Saint Laurent mondrian collection paired with Roger Vivier pilgrim shoes

Catherine Devenue wore Vivier’s pilgrim in the movie Belle de Jour released in 1967 and the design became an instant best seller and remains timeless and chic to this day.

Catherine Devenue in Bell de Jour (far left) Audrey Hepburn (center) and recent designs of the pilgrim

Catherine Devenue in Bell de Jour (far left) Audrey Hepburn both wearing the Roger Vivier pilgrim (center) and recent designs of the pilgrim (far right)

Close up of Catherine Devenue wearing the pilgrim in Belle de Jour

Close up of Catherine Devenue wearing the pilgrim in Belle de Jour

 

Rober Vivier pilgrim pumps

Rober Vivier pilgrim pumps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roger Vivier influenced many of today’s luxury shoe designers.   Christian Louboutin apprenticed with him for a time and Manolo Blahnik heralds him as a master craftsman.  Vivier died in 1998 at the age of 90 doing what he loved best, designing shoes to the very end.  The Roger Vivier brand was purchased two years after his death by Diego Della Valle the CEO of Tod’s.  Mr. Della Valle appointed French-Italian accessories designer Bruno Frisoni to revive the brand.  Today, Roger Vivier’s spirit is channeled in Mr. Della Valle’s designs.  The iconic silver pilgrim buckle has come to grace accessories of every kind from sunglasses to clutches.

Roger Vivier sunglasses with pilgrim buckle

Roger Vivier sunglasses with pilgrim buckle

Rover Vivier shoe and clutch

Rover Vivier shoe and clutch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creations from recent collections are being worn by a new generation of artists and actresses alike.  Vivier’s legacy of luxury and fine craftsmanship continues.  As he told Vogue in 1984, “to wear dreams on one’s feet is to begin to give a reality to one’s dreams, and to nourish the hope that they will bring on other dreams”.  With such rich history, there is little wonder as to why stilletos still bring about the intended effect, which has always been to enhance a woman’s allure.

Maison Goyard – The Art Book

“….this object is nothing less than a bible of luxury – not so much a book as a work of art and heart”

These are the words used by Suzy Menkes, the notable New York Times fashion critic to describe The Art Book published by the House of Goyard in 2010 which traces the history of Goyard and the art of traveling luxuriously in the 20th Century.

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The book, a collector’s item, took 10 years to prepare and is offered as a limited edition of 233 to commemorate Goyard’s address at 233 Rue St Honore.  The pages are hand cut and made by employing a 500 year old technique of lightening hemp with the petals of a desert flower.  More about the venerable brand that warrants this tome in my next post.