Early on in the pandemic, Bottega Veneta announced a new show model: Milan was out, and off-schedule salon-style shows were in. Creative director Daniel Lee would take his collections on the road and engage with both local talents and local audiences in the cities where the brand posted up. First was London, his home-base, last October. A show at Berlin’s Berghain nightclub followed in April. Salon 03 was staged tonight at Detroit’s Michigan Theatre, a 4,000-something seat movie palace built amidst Detroit’s spectacular automotive-fueled boom in the 1920s that was converted into a parking garage during its even more spectacular 1970s bust.
Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim were among the stars who jetted in to watch. From New York, a planeful of reporters, magazine editors, and stylists, plus the young designers Peter Do and Hillary Taymour made the trip too. For many, if not most of them, it was their first time in the Motor City. Curiosity about Detroit, and about what Lee and co. could get up to here, were the attractions.
Writing in The Atlantic in 2011, Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out, “Over the past few years, Detroit, the blackest big city in the country, has been hot with reporters and film-makers who’ve assigned themselves the work of comparing the city’s mythical past against its precarious present.” A decade later, unlike New York or LA, it’s still the kind of place that has something to prove. Enter Bottega Veneta and Daniel Lee.
“I’m obsessed with Detroit,” he said after the show. “I first came here six years ago and fell in love with the place. I’m from Leeds, it’s the industrial heartland of the UK, and Detroit being the industrial heartland of America, I feel this kind of connection.” Then there’s the music thing: “Detroit really is the birthplace of techno, and techno was the music that I was growing up to and going out to. I wanted to use my position to shine a light on all of that. ”
The day’s events included a culture tour that included stops at the mid-century Hawkins Ferry House in Grosse Point; the world’s first and only Techno museum, Exhibition 3000; and the studio of the industrial designer Chris Shanks, who is among the Detroiters who made installations for Bottega’s three-month pop-up shop at a decommissioned firehouse in the city’s Corktown neighborhood. The techno creatives Moodymann and Carl Craig were responsible for the sonic components of the show.