Into: What’s Really Surreal with Bottega Veneta’s Slime Green Tote Bag

Published May 22, 2019

“Into” is a series dedicated to objects, artworks, garments, exhibitions, and all orders of things that we are into — and there really isn’t a lot more to it than that. Today: Our Executive Editor, Thom Bettridge, professes his love for a bag unafraid to go there.

Someone needs to come up with a word for the phenomenon when a color or material or detail becomes so closely associated with a brand that it serves as a kind of logo. Hermès has it with bright orange. Issey Miyake has it with pleats. Ralph Lauren has it with pique shirt material. Louboutin has it with its red soles. Apple has it with brushed aluminum. And, um, Subway has it with its signature perfume of soggy bread and sliced cheese on a crowded street. In the case of Bottega Veneta, the longtime arbiters of quiet chic, this “atmospheric logo”—as I’ll call it—exists within the form of a signature woven leather handbag made with strips that are about a quarter-inch wide. If you are familiar with this weave, it becomes so instantly readable that anything that possesses it—be it a loafer, a wallet, a purse, or a garment bag—is either a Bottega product or a knockoff.

Following his arrival at the helm of the house, Bottega’s new creative director Daniel Lee set about creating a new line of bags and accessories for SS19 that expresses a penchant for deconstruction and minimalist tomfoolery. One such gesture was a move to take Bottega’s signature weave and dial up its size, playing with proportions in a way that feels at once recognizable and sort of like a hallucination. This move was executed subtly with Bottega’s new continental wallets, which are woven from leather strips that appear to be about double the width of the signature weave. But the design concept takes a full hit of acid with Lee’s new line of totes, which are woven from enormously wide strips of leather. The base-level effect is a summery and gorgeously-crafted tote, perfect for anyone who can take a $9,500 bag to the beach. But what makes me fall in love is the idea of taking something recognizable, even banal, and inflating its scale to epic proportions. This approach is a core principle of our finest surrealist artists—from Salvador Dali to Paul McCarthy to David Lynch—and for this reason, this slime green Bottega tote is something I’m very much into.