Authenticating Contemporary Bottega Veneta Bags: From Daniel Lee to Matthieu Blazy
The New Bottega Veneta
Italian brands may call to mind over-the-top, maximalist glamour, but Bottega Veneta’s one-time motto, which doesn’t get as much play as it should these days, is ‘When your own initials are enough.’ It’s an ethos that has no need for the flashiness of logos or fleeting, gimmicky designs. And it’s one both current creative director Matthieu Blazy and his predecessor Daniel Lee have embraced.
Since taking the helm in 2021, Blazy has continued to build on the bold new aesthetic created by Daniel Lee. And with a resume that includes stints at Maison Martin Margiela, Celine, and Calvin Klein, it’s no surprise that Blazy’s Bottega is the perfect mix of quiet luxury (understated slip dresses, oversized leather jackets) and unexpected, offbeat splashiness (thigh-high beaded boots, that ubiquitous shade of bright green).
“Mattieu has pushed boundaries by bringing in unusual shapes to show off the expert craftsmanship the brand is known for,” says Isabella Miller, Valuation Manager, Handbags. “He has begun to integrate new textiles to popular styles like the terry cloth Jodie, the denim Tote and marble velvet for the Knot Clutch.”
“Mattieu’s modern playful aesthetics have certainly pushed past expectations for the house but at its core, the house’s heritage – one of craftsmanship and quality materials – remains uncompromised,” Miller adds.
With Bottega bags suddenly everywhere, you may be wondering if that electric green Cassette riding next to you on the subway is the real deal or not. Read on for Miller’s tips for spotting a fake.
Authenticating Matthieu Blazy Era Bags
Many of Matthieu Blazy-era bags are leather-forward. The intricacy of the craftsmanship and quality of leather make as bold a statement as the silhouette itself, and the bags tend to have minimal hardware or embellishments.
“Paying attention to supple leather quality is a great skill to develop for any handbag lover,” says Miller. “Many bags of lower quality will have a sheen to them that reveal the leather was treated somehow, most likely with some type of plastic gloss to prevent the leather from marking easily. This gloss will peel off, and handbags of lower quality will not be dyed all the way through so the leather will show scratches easily and the peeling of the gloss will be unattractive. Real Bottega leather will be soft with either a subtle sheen or a matte effect. Lambskin will have small pores that are visible up close. Even the calf leather pieces should feel soft and malleable.”
A hallmark of both vintage and contemporary Bottega Veneta bags is the brand’s famed Intrecciato technique. “In an authentic Intrecciato, the strips of the weave should flow comfortably between each other, easily adapting when in motion to produce the feeling of a unified wave of movement,” says Miller. “Inferior dupes will often look awkward when in motion. Intrecciato takes a talented craftsman to create, and dupes will often jut out in certain directions, or be too stiff all together and not allow for enough movement. Intrecciato is, in essence, a net of leather, and it should move as such.”
For bags that do have noticeable hardware, like the Sardine, which was introduced in 2022: “It should be gold tone most of the time, and have an elegant, smooth texture. The gold should not have any green undertones, nor should the hardware have too thick of a lacquer to it.”
The Daniel Lee Era
When Daniel Lee stepped in as creative director in 2018, it was in the wake of Philo’s departure from Céline. The fashion world had lost its inventive, minimalist compass. But now the torch was passed to Lee, and with his five years working under Philo at Céline as well as stints at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan, he set out to imprint his own modern mark on the house codes of a brand built on less-is-more foundations. True to form, the beauty of #newBottega (a foil for the nostalgic #oldCéline) is in its simplicity. But more than that, it’s in the idea that simple doesn’t mean boring, that you can imbue elegance and timelessness with novelty, innovation and freshness.
Handbags like The Pouch and The Cassette and a bevy of square-toed sandals may bear no logos, but their shapes, silhouettes and materials are their calling cards, and as with anything anyone likes these days, you’ll see them on influencers and all over Instagram. Fame, unfortunately, breeds fakes. To tell real from faux in the absence of overt logos, the experts, like The RealReal’s Handbags Valuation Manager Robert Finch, turn to a close look at the details of materials, hardware and craftsmanship.
Authenticating Daniel Lee Era Bags
“When authenticating Bottega Veneta handbags, quality is paramount,” explains Finch. “Bottega Veneta uses leathers of the highest quality on the market, and they are typically both supple and durable.” The classic designs are made, of course, using the house’s signature Intrecciato technique. Created by weaving together thin strips of leather, a finished Intrecciato handbag appears simple and luxurious, yet requires hours of labor by master craftsmen. “While this basketweave is mimicked by other designers, the quality and precision of Bottega Veneta’s craftsmanship stands apart from the rest,” says Finch. And Daniel Lee has taken the spirit of Intrecciato in bold new directions with designs that blow up the proportions and add to the texture of the original. Styles like The Cassette, with its puffy, woven leather and totes featuring the jumbo widths of the maxi weave nod to the past while paving the way for pieces that people want to carry today.
When inspecting the new designs for authenticity, Finch pays special attention to the materials and construction. “Original techniques we are seeing in Daniel Lee’s work are most notably the padding design element, which is found throughout his latest collections, as well as the looping technique we see on The Sponge,” he notes. Lee has also introduced richness in his choice of textiles, which builds on the brand’s heritage of subtle luxury while allowing it to feel new. “The Cassette is made of calfskin versus lambskin, making it much more durable than a softer leather,” says Finch. And like the original Intrecciato, “The sides of the leather pieces should not be stitched down. Instead they are compressed and embossed down.” This is a technique that requires time many counterfeiters are simply not willing to spend to achieve high quality construction. “The leather is also double-faced, so the lining should reflect the outside,” Finch notes.
The Sponge, a textural take on The Pouch, and The Shoulder, a version of The Pouch, are uniquely constructed. “The gathered techniques seen on The Shoulder and The Pouch bring a fresh feel to the brand’s tradition of craftsmanship — it still feels like Bottega Veneta, but it’s not all about Intrecciato. The body of The Sponge is made from knitted nappa leather, and nappa leather loops are attached throughout. There should be knotted ties on each side of the bag, and on crossbody versions, there should be a strap with a single stitch running down the center,” notes Finch.
But authenticity is more than skin-deep. Be sure to look inside a bag to inspect the details. “Counterfeiters are usually going to spend 90% of their time focusing on the outside of a bag, because that’s what creates the illusion — the inside is where they save all the money,” Finch explains. This is where you should find some of the brand markings that are important indicators of authenticity. Notably, unlike at many other brands when new creative directors have arrived, the Bottega Veneta font and logo have remained the same under Daniel Lee. On The Cassette and The Pouch, you should find an interior brand stamp blind embossed with the Bottega Veneta logo and ‘Made In Italy.’ On newer styles, you should also find an interior tag with a unique serial number on it. Counterfeiters often get details such as this one wrong. “On a real Bottega Veneta bag from the early 2000s to now, the interior tag should be paper-like and feature the Bottega Veneta logo and an individual serial number,” notes Finch. “This tag should have a raw edge, as opposed to a cleanly cut edge, which some counterfeits may have.” If you have an older, non-Daniel Lee era bag, the interior tag may be different, and sometimes note the style number, leather type, year and color instead of a serial number.
Another important authenticity factor? Hardware. “The buckle found on The Cassette as well as the tarnished hardware seen on many pieces are inspired by vintage Bottega Veneta hardware,” says Finch. “On The Cassette, the front slide lock and the side of the buckle should be cleanly engraved with ‘Bottega Veneta’ in the traditional brand font.” Pay close attention to the interior zippers as well. “Bottega Veneta uses Riri zippers which is denoted with Riri branding on the base of the zipper or with a butterfly design which is a Bottega Veneta signature logo,” says Finch.