For Bottega Veneta’s Autumn/Winter Collection, Matthieu Blazy Finds a Muse in the Calabrian Cactus

Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2024 collection. All images courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

In his two-and-a-half years as the creative director of Bottega Veneta, Matthieu Blazy has consistently flaunted his fascination with Italy.

From its artisan traditions to its design heritage, the Parisian designer keeps returning again and again to the country’s lore. For his Autumn/Winter 2024 collection, which he presented last Saturday evening in a vacant warehouse in the outskirts of Milan, he turned his attention south. 

Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2024 runway.

The space was washed in a dim orange light meant to evoke the feeling of a barren desert sunset. Interspersed around the winding runways were towering blown glass cacti: columns of translucent green bulbs topped with sprouting pink flowers that Blazy had commissioned in Murano, the Venetian glassmaking island. The desert scene was an homage to the Italian region of Calabria (the toe of Italy’s boot), an arid and sometimes desolate place populated by scrubby mountains, a rugged coastline, and, of course, an abundance of the spiky plants.

“I have been visiting and thinking about the South of Italy, of Calabria and the cactus,” Blazy wrote in the show notes. “It is an idea of resilience—the cactus grows where nothing else can grow. I’d like the floor to be seen as this landscape; the show might have a sense of introspection, but one with resilience and a feeling of hope. It’s a trial by fire that is passed.” 

Models emerged to a soundtrack resembling a remixed Ennio Morricone score (the famed composer was best known for his contributions to the Italian Spaghetti Western genre). The show comprised a beautifully conceived collection of voluminous, round-shouldered wool coats, layered silk skirts printed with a degradé flame motif, colorful suede shackets, leather trenches with cowl neck detailing, as well as skirts, coats, and dresses bursting with fringe.

The set also featured a collaboration with Italian design brand Cassina, which provided seating in the form of Le Corbusier’s LC14 Cabanon stool. Designed in 1952, the shape was informed by a whiskey box the Swiss architect found washed up on the beach. Bottega’s version featured a flame-scorched finish, which turned up the contrast on the honey-colored wood grain. The seating will be the subject of the brand’s upcoming Salone del Mobile presentation, which will open in Milan on April 15: another opportunity for Blazy to celebrate his adopted home.