As good as the Milan collections for spring 2003 were and they were very good the hands-down winner came from a company that didn't even put on a runway show. With its third collection by Tomas Maier, Bottega Veneta, the leather-goods house famous in the 1970s for its woven bags and the slogan "When your own initials are enough," confirmed expectations that it would be Gucci Group's next successful turnaround. When Gucci bought the company in February 2001, the designers were two British consultants whose attempts to revive the label included products like black catsuits with "BV" in neon lettering. Tom Ford, Gucci's creative director, hired Maier away from Hermès and charged him with creating a luxury line. Maier quickly put out a capsule collection of classic Bottega accessories, including woven bags and wallets, and the catsuits were never seen again. "People don't realize what has been accomplished so quickly," says Gucci Group boss Domenico de Sole. Well, some do. Editors and retailers love Maier's work the slouchy woven bags, the woven pillows for the home, even a woven motorcross jacket. Maier's latest collection displays a more high-fashion approach, with Venetian glass beads adorning his bags and necklaces. A limited-edition line of bags comes with exchangeable woven straps, allowing the owner to change looks on a whim. While Maier was designing these delights, Bottega's CEO Patrizio di Marco was opening stores in New York, Paris, Milan and London. What better way to show off Bottega's new look?
The Art of Shopping
American artist Barbara Kruger is credited with paraphrasing Descartes to say: "I shop, therefore I am." The world's favorite pastime is celebrated in the exhibition, "Shopping: a Century of Art and Consumer Culture," at Frankfurt's Schirn Kunsthalle until Dec. 1, then at Tate Liverpool from Dec. 20 to March 23. One of Kruger's pieces, two huge eyes under the legend, you love it, you dream it, you need it, you buy it, you forget it, is too big to fit in the museum, so it covers the four-story facade of the Galeria Kaufhof on Frankfurt's main shopping drag. Inside, there are some 200 artworks photos of early 20th century shop fronts by Walker Evans, Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott, surrealist mannequin displays and Fluxus conceptual art reconstructions. The installations are the most eye-catching. For the first time since it was shown in New York in 1964, American Supermarket, a collaboration by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and others, has been remade, complete with meat, cheese and fruit counters, neon signs and chirpy muzak. For visitors, the Saturday morning trip to the supermarket will never feel the same. By Kate Noble
A BreathOf Stale Air
Fashion has so much to love the glamour, the beauty, the clothes. And so much to hate the glamour, the beauty, the clothes. It's not surprising that the industry teems with disgruntled staffers, many of whom hope one day to get their revenge. Wayne Hemingway, designer of the now- defunct cult label Red or Dead, gets his chance to diss the London fashion scene this month, when Britain's Channel 4 begins airing his series, Revolt in Fashion. Like most fashion documentaries, it tells us what we already knew: that the business is less about art than about money. The few so-called scoops magazine stylists also moonlight for fashion houses are hardly tabloid fare. Hemingway begins by declaring: "Parts of the fashion industry stink, and I'm getting the air freshener out." But what we get is pretty stale.