Tomas Maier's Bottega Veneta is one exemplary illustration of how the principles of restrained, minimalist, functionalist designthe discipline that's been cast into the shade since the ninetiescan not only be relevant for now but, frankly, delicious with it. How so, when a collection is virtually colorless with no overt story to broadcast? It doesn't take a Ph.D. to analyze. Scan the section of flowy, crinkle-creased shirtdresses and goddess draping (how about the gray-green one with the crepe caught into a kind of garland in the neckline?), and you'd need a heart of stone not to think, There goes something gorgeous.
Backstage, Maier described the collection as a balance between "rigor and anarchy," imagined along the attenuated lines of a Giacometti sculpture with a side thought for the attitude of Madame Grès, "except loosened, and then I pinned and tucked the pleating on each girl irregularly, just where the body asks for it." More importantly, as a Miami-dwelling world traveler, the German-born Maier understands summer dressing. He knows where his women are going in his clothes (airplane, work, dinner) and how to make such things as a spare shift or a pragmatic trench elegant. Maier's expertise as a swimwear designer also leads him to design from the inside out, so he will automaticallyand consideratelybuild an invisible holding under-layer into his breezy transparencies. It's doable, believable, and, if you have the funds, eminently buyable. Credit Maier for the fact that the clothes are now vying with the accessories for attention in this luxury house founded on woven leather goods (for the update on those, check the wedges and the oxidized-leather belts and bags).