The interlacing pattern of woven-leather strips known as intrecciatois Bottega Veneta’s indelible hallmark,even though its ready-to-wear under creative director Tomas Maier more often makes headlines. It also has another growing signature – the Knot bag, the distinctive little hard-sided, rounded-corner, clutch bag with a knot clasp that comes in myriad guises – over 300 at the last count. The basic bag goes back to 1978, long before the makeover of the top-quality but once sleepy Italian leather goods brand began. When Maier arrived in 2001 he saw the potential of its distinctive shape – the body is slightly rounded too, extremely tactile and comfortable to hold – and added the simple leather-knot closure, recognising the brand’s leathercraft heritage, that became its name.
There have been Knot bags in every BV collection since, some directly related to the clothes, many with a life of their own. Maier recognised the value of this tiny but intense blank canvas as a means of showing off the many crafts – metalwork (it now has a metal knot) and jewellery as much as leatherwork – of which the brand is proud. Assembling the curved-body bag itself is long and complex, the covering (which never has seams) and decoration even more so. Intrecciato has been reproduced in silver as the corners, gemstones are a frequent addition, and there is even a totally gold version with added diamonds. Exotic-skin Knots, often to order in the client’s choice of colour, are the mainstay, along with the many plain satin shades that form the “starter” Knot – these bags have become as collectable as the Fendi Baguette.
An exhibition of the best pieces forms a wonderful travelling museum; it has been going for several years and varies in the places it appears as new favourites are added. It arrives in London on October 21 for five days. Scattered through the Bond Street store are 119 of the best Knots, some of them unique pieces and many for sale. The bags on display include several in silver, another craft at which BV excels. One (£6,705, first picture) reproduces the intrecciatomotif all over; another (£6,705), oxidised to shimmering dark grey, looks like moiré silk. Decorative detail, such as beading or semiprecious stone inlay (from £2,570, third picture), is another BV staple and one of the most chic (£1,650, fourth picture) is black all over, even the metal knot. In addition, there is an exclusive version (£2,995, second picture) in pale camel crocodile with silver intrecciatocorners to order only from the Old Bond Street store.