It used to be that fashion labels would gradually boost their sales by adding bags to their repertoires. Bottega Veneta is reversing that old order. It already has the wildly successful bags, to which it's added a small selection of clothes; for fall, the ultraluxurious Italian leather-goods company presented its first full, day-through-evening collection.
What kind of top-to-toe look works for the many women addicted to Bottega Veneta's soft, intricately handmade wares? The answer for day, according to designer Tomas Maier, is a restrained, slick city silhouette of belted shearlings, neat suits, and fit-and-flare gray tweed coats, followed up with easy full-skirt jersey dresses, sheer sweaters, and chiffon kilts. He left plenty of time to admire the bags, with their leather flower appliqués and the steep Spiga loafers embedded with Bottega's signature woven intrecciato in the toe.
The problems came when Maier moved into a long parade of eveningwear. He certainly has an eye for a seductive evening itemwhether that be a velvet knee boot with a flower-painted stacked heel, a high twenties sandal, a tiny silver stingray pochette, or a horde of jeweled wooden bangles. But when it came to the credibility-straining, vaguely caftan-inspired velvet pieces and jersey dresseswell, compared to the bags, shoes, and jewelry, they couldn't help but seem like accessories after the fact.