The Bottega Veneta Knot clutch, a new interpretation of a classic bag, made from calf leather and featuring brass-toned hardware. $3,800, bottegaveneta.com. Photography by Chase Middleton.
Since its founding in 1966, Bottega Veneta has been producing leather goods in the small northern Italian city of Vicenza, where artisans make handcrafted bags and other accessories using a centuries-old technique called intrecciato, weaving strips of leather into a tightly crosshatched pattern. Refined yet durable, the interlocking motif came to signify discreet luxury. In 2001, when the German designer Tomas Maier arrived as the brand’s creative director, the fashion industry was at the height of It bag mania and the accompanying obsession with monograms, flashy hardware and other embellishments. But Maier was determined to protect Bottega’s bags from trends. Shortly after his appointment, he came across a rounded box clutch circa 1978 in the archives and decided to make it his own, swapping out its rectangular clasp for one shaped like a nautical rope and naming the curvy pochette Knot. Since spring 2002, most seasons have included iterations of the clutch, which has been reimagined in an array of materials, colours and sizes.
Last November, Matthieu Blazy, who had been overseeing ready-to-wear at Bottega since 2020, took over as artistic director. For his fall 2022 debut, the 38-year-old designer — a French and Belgian national who previously worked at Calvin Klein, Celine and Maison Margiela — took inspiration from Umberto Boccioni’s 1913 Futurist sculpture “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.” “Bottega Veneta is, in essence, pragmatic,” Blazy said in the show notes. “Because it specialises in bags, it is about movement … there is fundamentally an idea of craft in motion.” Not surprisingly, intrecciato showed up in many of Blazy’s creations, including over-the-knee boots, miniskirts, bucket totes, chunky belts and driving loafers — and, notably, his reinterpretation of that now-iconic clutch. Blazy’s foulard Knot is composed of interwoven strips of paper-thin calf leather, with a slightly softer silhouette than the original and a twisted, brass-toned clasp. The hypertextured bag, which comes in onyx and bone, is unmistakably Bottega — synonymous, said Blazy, with “style over fashion in its timelessness.”
The 2022 edition Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43 in Ice Blue, Mint Green, Copper, Black and stainless steel Silver, $12,290 each, breitling.com
In the early 1940s, as World War II raged across Europe, the Swiss manufacturer Breitling played an integral role in supplying aeroplane cockpit instruments to the Allied forces. It was during this time that the brand developed the Chronomat, an aviation-inspired wristwatch that featured a revolutionary new slide rule, a function that allowed pilots to make all the necessary flight calculations while airborne.
Not only was the Chronomat an instant success, it became the official timepiece of the international Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). This partnership prompted the birth of the now iconic Breitling Navitimer (the name is an amalgam of “navigation” and “timer”). Embraced by airline captains and aircraft enthusiasts, the Navitimer went on to make its outer space debut in 1962 on the wrist of the American astronaut Scott Carpenter. It was also worn by celebrities of the time including Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg and the Formula 1 champions Jim Clark and Graham Hill.
In early 2022, some 70 years after the release of Breitling’s slide rule calculator, the company unveiled a collection of redesigned Navitimers that seamlessly merge the most recognisable aspects of the original with modern refinements and colours. The circular slide rule, notched bezel, trio of chronograph counters and 12 o’clock placement of the AOPA wing insignia are enough to inspire nostalgia, while the alternating brushed and polished metal elements give the timepieces an understated lustre. A slimmer silhouette houses 70 hours of power reserve, while a choice of sizes (46, 43 or 41 millimetres), colours (including blue, green and copper) and case materials (stainless steel or 18-karat red gold) allows devotees to select a Navitimer journey and aesthetic that is all their own.
This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our tenth edition, Page 104 of T Australia with the headline: “First of its Kind/Last of its Kind”
From left: This archival David Webb sketch from the 1960s of an emerald and diamond leopard brooch served as one of the references for the jewellery house’s new cat-inspired earrings. David Webb’s new Caged Leopard chandelier earrings, made of cabochon emeralds, brilliant-cut diamonds, black enamel, 18-karat yellow gold and platinum. Price on request, davidwebb.com. Still life by Jong Hyup Son. Set design by Haidee Findlay-Levin.
Born in 1925 in North Carolina, the jewellery designer David Webb grew up idolising his grandfather, an engraver, and at 14 began apprenticing under his uncle, who was a jewellery maker. Three years later, Webb left the South to make a name for himself in Manhattan, where the brand was officially established in 1948 with a shop on West 46th Street. By the late ’50s, Webb, who collected children’s books on wild beasts and made weekly pilgrimages to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to study Scythian and ancient Egyptian gold artefacts, had become best known for his enamelled animal pieces. Banishing barnyard and household creatures from his jewels, the designer, who died in 1975 at the age of 50, favoured a far more exotic and mythical menagerie of big cats, zebras, frogs and more. His creations — from compacts shaped like tortoises to carved coral bracelets inspired by the Hindu makara sea dragon — were coveted by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Vreeland and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and were, as one society reporter wrote, “as essential as the food and drink at La Grenouille to the fashion society clan.”
Paramount to Webb’s creative process was the act of sketching. Thanks to these drawings — nearly 40,000 of which are now part of the brand’s archives — Webb’s legacy lives on, having inspired many of the house’s designs over the past five decades. The latest reimagined pieces are a pair of whimsical chandelier earrings featuring two diamond-encrusted leopards peering out from behind gilded bars. Set with cabochon emeralds, brilliant-cut diamonds, black enamel, 18-karat gold and platinum, these jewels pay homage to two of Webb’s illustrations from the ’60s, one of a leopard brooch with emerald eyes and diamonds for spots, the other a tiger ring, the cat housed inside a small cage of gold that sits atop the finger. (The latter was finally made by the house in 2018.) Commissioned by a longtime collector of David Webb, these majestic felines are just as bold today as they were when the designer’s pencil first touched paper.
Cartier Tank Must 2022 edition watch, from $4,200, cartier.com.au. Still life courtesy Jordan Turner.
In the early 20th century, as technology steamed ahead without respite, the jeweller and watchmaker Louis Cartier proposed a new design that played to the strengths of the eponymous house founded by his grandfather: line, shape, proportion and detail. It was the Tank wristwatch, which debuted in 1919, reinventing at a stroke the traditional round watch.
There was much to admire, from the unique squarecase to the elegant Roman numerals, the cabochon-cut sapphire crown and Cartier’s trademark rail-track minute dial. Since that time, the Tank has been made rectangular as the Tank Cintrée (1921) and diamond-shaped as the Tank Asymétrique (1936). It has been endowed with a water-resistant case and a folding buckle (1989’s Tank Américaine) and with an integrated bracelet and bevelled case sides (1996’s Tank Française), all the while remaining true to the spirit of Louis’ original.
In 2022, the design has shapeshifted once again, becoming the all-black Tank Must, a style first launched in 1977. Hour markers are absent, but the signature sapphire-set winding crown remains.This edition ties the design flair of the ’70s with the iconic elements of the early Tank for an understated accessory that’s at once modern and timeless.
Truman Capote once chided a journalist, ordering his interviewer to take off their inferior watch and wear Capote’s own. “I beg you, keep it, I have at least seven at home,” he said. It was a Tank, of course. In doing so, he confirmed what everyone already knew: the Tank is the mark of a creative and those who appreciate pure design and perennial style.
This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eighth edition, Page 112 of T Australia with the headline: “First of Its Kind/Last of Its Kind”
Louis Vuitton's latest Vanity Mahjong Trunk features a six-drawer vanity and hand-painted tiles backed in walnut. Photography by Antoine Henault.
At age 14, Louis Vuitton set off on foot from his hometown of Anchay in eastern France. Two years later, he found himself in Paris, where he began apprenticing as a trunk maker and packer. And 17 years after that, in 1854, the young malletier opened his own luggage and packing shop near the Place Vendôme. Vuitton’s flat-topped canvas steamer trunks, designed to be stacked one on top of the other, marked a revolutionary departure from the dome-lidded and inclined cases of the day, and the house soon became known for its standing wardrobes and leather travel goods. Along with trunks, it also designed custom vanity cases to hold champagne, tea services, jewellery, perfumes and board games from chess to backgammon.
At the same time, on the other side of the world, mahjong — a Chinese game of skill and luck played with dominolike tiles — was emerging in the Yangtze River Delta. By the 1920s, the game had become popular in America, enjoyed by the likes of President Warren G. Harding and at Hollywood soirees. In the 1950s, Vuitton’s maison created its first mahjong travel trunks: slim, rectangular malles, lined in satin, with interior compartments to hold the game’s tiles, sticks and rulers.
The brand’s latest mahjong vanity set is trimmed in natural cowhide and gleaming brass fasteners, with a monogrammed canvas exterior that unbuckles from the top to reveal a six-drawer vanity with a deep emerald green lining. Tucked inside the trunk’s compartments is a complete mahjong set — 144 tiles, four wooden rulers, dice and a wind indicator shaped like the brand’s iconic floral logo. The intricately carved tiles, topped in composite stone and backed in American walnut, are hand-painted with colourful patterns for suits and honours that also riff on the house’s signature four-petal botanical motif. Streamlined yet timeless, the trunk evokes a sense of nostalgia for an era when everything had its place.
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The new Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery watch, which has a rose-gold case and bracelet set with diamonds, turquoise and pear-cut rubellites. Photography by Jacques Brun.
Bulgari’s Serpenti totem has assumed many forms in the 74 years since its debut in postwar Italy. The jeweller’s earliest snake-inspired pieces tended toward abstraction, referencing ophidian sinuousness by way of a corrugated gold bracelet — based on the articulated flex of gas piping — that slithered up the wrist. More recent designs, such as gem-wreathed watch faces shaped like a venomous snake’s triangular head, have mimicked the creature’s slinky form more directly. But it is the Italian house’s bold creations from the 1950s and ’60s, those with the most recognisably reptilian features, that have influenced its newest collection of women’s timepieces.
The most famous example from this era became a global phenomenon in 1962 at Cinecittà, the movie studio in Rome, during the filming of the American director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s epic “Cleopatra.” Its star, Elizabeth Taylor, was captured on set wearing her diamond-headed Serpenti bracelet watch, and the resultant, widely circulated image helped turn the Roman store into an international brand — and the Serpenti into a metonym for no-holds-barred Italian glamour.
The new limited-edition Serpenti Misteriosi High Jewellery collection retains many of the aesthetic signatures of those glittering ’60s designs: pear-cut precious gemstones for eyes; hand-etched hard stones such as turquoise for inlaid scales; a pavé-diamond watch case and dial nestled beneath a hinged jaw, a flicker of a forked tongue testing the air. The main evolutions are technological: An ultrathin, sunflower-seed-size mechanical watch movement allows for a lighter, slimmer body, while the case itself can be removed from the snake’s mouth, transforming the bracelet into a piece of stand-alone jewellery.
“Today we have the opportunity to make a beautiful Serpenti with the right proportions because we have different technology and materials,” says Bulgari’s executive director of product creation for watches, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani. “But we will never be able to reinvent a piece more beautiful than the original.” Instead, the house will forever circle back to its most seductive creation, time after time, like a snake eating its tail.
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