There's often a hint of irony in Tomas Maier's collections for Bottega Veneta. This season, washed-out madras items, monochrome ensembles in pale peach (here called "lotus") and orange ("aurora")even the butterfly-embroidered swimsuit Maier usually showssuggested a quirky take on a preppy Palm Beach story. It's curious that a designer who is so devoted to the finest craftsmanship in clothing should make such a strong showing in spring, more so than in the fall (when logic dictates that a creative mind would have more to work with), but the simpler, lighter needs of summer seem to suit Maier's own tastes best. The man has, after all, elected to live in Miami.
So his palette was sun-faded, his fabrics were washed-out, and his silhouette had an almost slouchy ease. With comfort as a priority, casual jackets had zip-off sleeves and detachable collars. After last summer's essentially monochrome white collection, Maier thought of his custom-made madras as a print for spring 2008. He combined different varieties of it in a jacket, shirt, and pant combo. But for all this summery ease, the designer is still absorbed in and challenged by the construction of clothes. His suits, with their little peaked shoulders, carried over the influence of the Neapolitan tailoring from BV's fall collection, especially a final three-piece group in dully gleaming ramie. Echoing Luca Missoni's aqua-infused spring effort, Maier said he was thinking about David Hockney's fusion of formal and sportswear during his "Splash" period in California in the late sixties. Sunny, but seriously smart.