Milan Fashion Week closed five off-kilter days of runway shows for next season, marked both by a sense of relief that strict pandemic rules were easing but with growing distress over the war in Ukraine. While Armani had a silent show to pay respects, a lone protester stood poignantly outside shows on Sunday, February 27, vying for attention, with a sign reading “Putin, stop bombing Ukraine,” and balloons in yellow and blue for the embattled country’s flag. Meanwhile, Bottega Veneta has hit refresh with the creative direction of Matthieu Blazy, following the departure of Daniel Lee in 2021. The new creative director sent a clear message of renewal with the first look in his debut collection on Saturday night, February 26: a white tank and what appeared to be jeans, but which were deceptively made out of soft nubuck. Call it a palate cleanser. And with that simple gesture, Blazy drew a straight line to the roots of the Veneto-born brand as a leather goods company, and its understated sophistication that was sometimes eclipsed by his predecessor’s eye-catching padded “ intrecciato ” (woven) leather mules and bags. Princess Sofia of Sweden’s 4 most dazzling tiaras and jewellery The French designer brought creative new twists to the label: the bag of the season is the brand’s classic woven intreccio slung over the shoulder, not worn but gripped by a long strap without the conventional loop. The garments themselves were defined by movement, which Blazy said in notes relates to the brand’s heritage bags as objects that suggest travel, at very least getting out of the house. Jealously, isolation, escape: behind Princess Charlene’s fairy tale Monaco life They included midi-length A-line skirts with a bustle of shredded leather, for a feathery rustle with every step of the sculpted platform heel. Wispy sequinned cocktail dresses with feather detailing were paired with knee-high boots in glossy beetle green, off-white or silver. Rounded sculpted shoulder straps gave life to sheath dresses, accented by a woven clutch elegantly studded in golden points. Julianne Moore and Raf Simons , the Prada designer who was Blazy’s boss for a spell at Calvin Klein, had front row seats in the brand’s new headquarters behind Milan’s City Hall. The space was still a work in progress, with raw concrete block walls and the dome’s reinforcements still showing. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .