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Anatomy of a Classic: the Bottega Veneta Clam Bag

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Anatomy of a Classic: the Bottega Veneta Clam BagDavid Schulze

Do seashells have the best PR team in fashion and design? They are so simple, and yet these eternal ocean treasures have served as inspiration for the brightest creative minds since time immemorial.

Let’s review. In the 20th century the Art Deco era, a time of striking decorative excess, birthed the seashell chair, an upholstered place of rest whose back resembles the calcium-carbonate exoskeletons of mollusks. A decade or so later saw the Danish designer Philip Arctander’s seashell-inspired Clam chair, then Hans Wegner’s Shell chair in 1963. Both remain icons of Midcentury Modern design. But the motif stretches much further back: We can’t forget Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, in which the goddess of love dramatically emerges from a tempera-painted shell.

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Form and function find harmony: A pair of twirled handles offer a comfortable grip, while discreet leather loops allow for full closure. David Schulze
bottega veneta
Making leather do wonderful things is a Bottega signature. Here, the artisans of the brand’s atelier in Montebello, Italy, ingeniously recreate the weave of a wicker bag.David Schulze

Now Matthieu Blazy has put his own spin on highbrow shellfish. The creative director of Bottega Veneta debuted the Clam bag, seen here, in his spring 2024 collection. “There is a need to reconnect to a primal world of animals, minerals, and plants,” he wrote in the show notes. “Like collecting seashells—beautiful, meaningful, or meaningless.”

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Each bag is made with a basketry technique called semilavorato and requires up to 300 feet of leather.David Schulze
bottega veneta
What’s a shell without a surprise inside? An additional leather zip pocket means extra storage. (Pearls would fit perfectly.)David Schulze

Trompe-l’oeil mastery has been Blazy’s calling card since he became creative director in 2021; in his first show he sent down leather pants he had brilliantly transformed to look like denim. Now he has done it again. As for what treasures will be hidden inside? That’s up to you.

This story appears in the February 2024 issue of Town & Country.

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