Tomas Maier's version of twenty-first-century no-logo stealth-wealth is proving a runaway success at Bottega Veneta. The evidence of that has always been easy to spot in stores (where the pliable woven surfaces of his ultraluxurious handcrafted bags are obvious to the eye and touch), and in the exponentially expanding bottom line of the BV profit sheet. For the first few seasons, though, Maier's quiet message didn't quite carry to the runway. But his initial awkwardness with the concept of managing a top-to-toe look is, with this collection, showing signs of disappearing.
Maier's growing self-confidence has helped him relax into what he's best at: pared-down clothes whose cut and fabric speak for themselves. "There's no embellishment, no fur, no embroidery," he said. In a season of gray jersey and pantsuits, he was on home territory. He sculpted the former into two ultraprecise multiseamed day dresses, and two short draped goddess gowns for evening. Unlined neat jackets and wide pants, meanwhile, were treated to a turn in the washing machine to produce a luxuriously rumpled effect. Those were followed by shadow-painted plaid kilts with a sparkle in the pleats, and matching jacketsyet more items on the checklist of interesting pieces for Bottega's moneyed customers to inspect, come fall.
The kicker is that Maier is investing plenty of decorative punch in his accessories. It's a smart move that reflects the way most women actually dress today, and double-smart for a house that knows its customer's insatiable hunger for unique, hard-to-identify, and extremely expensive items. To that end, the Bottega woven bags now come with flowers sprouting from the interstices, and are framed with brass hardware featuring Fabergé-inspired engravings. This season also sees the launch of Bottega Veneta fine jewelry, a collection that includes intricately braided chains made of 18-karat yellow and white gold, cuffs, and charm bracelets that up the luxury ante in a way that will no doubt delight the high-spenders Maier already has in his thrall.