Creative director of Bottega Veneta, Daniel Lee has worked together with filmmaker and photographer Tyrone Lebon to create a short film exploring the intimacy and vulnerability behind the seemingly mundane act of dressing and undressing. The English designer has breathed new life into the Italian luxury fashion brand, winning four categories for Bottega Veneta at last year’s CFDA awards, including Designer of the Year. Part of the reason of Lee’s incredible success, we believe, is his innate ability to give fresh perspective to outwardly minimalistic or simplistic designs and concepts. He shows this introspective trait through not just his designs but his campaigns for Bottega Veneta.
In the short film titled simply Bottega Veneta: Men, Lee explores the concept of dressing through his contemplative lens with the help of 10 creatives that inspire him such as Swedish singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry, director Dick Jewell and more. Getting dressed is a daily act that is often mindless and second-nature to us, but the short film shifts our perspective in highlighting the performative nature of this act. What do the clothes that we put on mean to us? Is it self-expression? Or perhaps putting on an external persona?
For some, like Jewell, he “associates clothes with musical taste” where there is no right or wrong, better or worse as long as there is “soul”. For Nigerian-born, London-based singer Obongjayar, the act of dressing is a form of assimilation after moving from his hometown of Calabar, Nigeria to England.
“Just ‘cos I tried so hard to assimilate when I move here, I caught everything super quickly,” he mused, “You have to dress a certain way, keep your hair a certain way, talk a certain way… You start to ask yourself, what is my identity?”. That feeling of losing touch with oneself is something we all can relate to, whether we have to assimilate to societal norms or even office dress codes and so on. He highlights the importance of not losing ourselves in the subconscious act of conformity.
For me, the film strikes a poignant tone with Neneh Cherry who likens the layers of clothing that we wear to the many layers of our persona. “It’s so deep, isn’t it? The truth,” she said. While we can pick the layers we put on, ultimately we have to live with the reality of our bodies when we take them off at the end of the day. The simple act of undressing exposes our vulnerabilities and we are faced with the raw truth of our being, without any embellishments to distract or the ability to project. “To show you weakness is also strength,” Cherry stated. And that strength comes with acceptance.
You can watch Daniel Lee’s full short film here, but for a little taster, check out the teaser below: