Bottega Veneta takes over the Brera Academy in Milan, an architectural gem


It’s one of the unmissable events of Milan Fashion Week. On September 24th Bottega Veneta hold its runway show within the Brera Fine Arts Academy for the first time…



For the first time in its history, the famous Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta has chosen to occupy the legendary Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera to present its spring-summer 2017 men and women’s collection simultaneously and celebrate both its 50th anniversary and the 15 years of Tomas Maier’s art direction. Rarely has a space embodied the values of a house so well. Founded in 1776 by the Empress Marie Theresa Ire of Hungary, the Academy has educated some of the very best artists and artisans and is recognised as one of the top schools on the peninsular.


Among its prestigious alumni of sculptors and painters are Lucio Fontana and Fausto Melotti, symbols of the 1920s renaissance of the Milanese scene, and more recently the photographer Vanessa Beecroft. “Creativity and artisanal expertise lie at the heart of Bottega Veneta,” explains Thomas Maier. “I am delighted to celebrate my 15 years of artistic direction and the 50 years of the House at the Brera Academy by organising our runway show here and doing it in the presence of the artisans and all the people who have accompanied us over the years.” Because it is thanks to them that the house owes its discreet perfectionism, its timeless elegance and this unique way of letting the nobility of the materials speak out. 


Ever since it was established in 1966 in the Veneto, Bottega Veneta hasn’t stopped working on the transmission of a legacy and an inimitable Italian savoir-faire - values that can only resonate with the Berea Academy. The school prides itself on presenting and preserving Italian culture and artistic history for the several centuries. When the Brera Palace was erected in 1572 it was initially entrusted to the Jesuits. Its name thus owes everything to its location, a grassy clearing (“braida in German which would later become ‘brera”).


The setting was extended during the 17th century with an astronomical observatory, a botanical garden and a national library before becoming the Academy and art gallery we know today. It was the beginning of a great artistic adventure as it constituted a collection of masterpieces: Caravaggio, Leonardo de Vinci, Titian, Bellini, Raphael, Rubens… A corpus enriched in the 19th century when Napoleon Bonaparte decided to turn it into a museum that would display paintings acquired from conquered territories. The Bottega Veneta show will take place in the galleries surrounding the library, in the midst of the majestic sculptures and paintings.


This intimate link with art is not new for the house; Bottega Veneta has long been collaborating with well-known artists. “The idea of collaboration is a firmly anchored tradition at Bottega Veneta, explains Tomas Maier. “Everything that we produce is the result of different crafts working together in harmony.” And so after Stephen Shore in 2006, came Nick Night in 2008, Robert Longo in 2010, Jack Pierson in 2012, Peter Lindbergh in 2013, and Nobuyoshi Araki in 2015… Artistic encounters that led to the exhibition “The Art of Collaboration”, and a book of the same name published by Rizzoli.


This latest association with the Brera Academy doesn’t stop with the show. Bottega Veneta has committed itself to funding the scholarship program for 2016-2017. A transmission of knowledge already set up in 2016 when the house established its Scuola dei Maestri Pellettieri di Bottega Veneta to train the next generation of leather craftsmen. “We want to make sure this extraordinary and ancestral savoir-faire will never get lost,” adds Tomas Maier. Bottega Veneta couldn’t have found a better way to celebrate this double anniversary than with a bridge between the past and the future. 


By Thibaut Wychowanok