Fabric was the starting point at Tomas Maier's Bottega Veneta show today. Print and color for the most part were pared back, so that his expressive volumes could do the talking. Maier developed a cotton woven with copper; the metal threads gave it a memory. He used it to sculpt mille-feuilles of ruffles that circled the hips of a short skirt, cascaded down the torso of a day dress, and bustled the small of the back on a one-shoulder dress with leather straps. The results felt ladylike, not all that unlike his 1950s-inflected Fall show, but where that was retro-strict, this had a more relaxed spirit. Inevitably, it felt more modern. How ironic, then, to hear from Maier backstage that a visit to the Metropolitan's Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity show was what sent him down this path for Spring. Like the Impressionists, process is paramount to Maier, but as a whole it didn't bog him down. There was a real sense of drama to these clothes, but they had a nice lightness, too. Take the show's signal look: a black wrap skirt with an exuberant flounce at the waist that he paired with a white button-down, its boxy short sleeves turned over with deep cuffs. The crisp shirting was sharp where the ruffles were sweet; those aforementioned leather straps on the dresses had a similar leavening effect. Maier is smart enough to know that if you add, you must also take away. Toward the end of the show, he tried out a few other kinds of embellishment, the most successful of which was the short mohair fringing that accented belted plissé tank dresses. Other numbers, especially one in royal blue with metallic appliqués embroidered in a dégradé effect, looked overly crafty and weighed down. Not all masterpieces, then, but we liked Maier's sense of exploration here.