To produce Bottega Veneta's new Cruise shoes—loafers with woven-raffia uppers, brogues with raffia insets, and raffia kitten heels with leather cap toes—Tomas Maier commissioned artisans in Morocco. "We tried to do it in Italy, but…" he threw up his hands, indicating that even the skilled factories in BV's native country didn't know the right techniques in this particular case. To get the raffia supple enough to weave, Maier continued, it must be bathed in oil and water first. "I like being able to display that kind of know-how."

It's a detail worth bringing up not only because the shoes are truly fabulous but also because it illuminates the entire Bottega Veneta collection, which once more puts the emphasis on craft. Cotton poplin dresses are embroidered with raw swatches of St. Gallen lace and then block-printed, while A-line frocks are embroidered with fringe, then veiled in a sheer black material, which is further embellished with macramé and swags of silver chain. The real marvel, though, is that the results look so effortless, so exactly like what you want to wear when the weather turns hot. A pair of solid stretch-cotton dresses with only big floppy bows for adornment looked simpler in their execution, but still special.

This season's handbag additions include ombré-dyed, soft-construction goatskin city totes and smaller Intrecciato-style bags with hand-painted edges. "No two bags are the same," Maier said. "The client appreciates that." Innovation seems to be the Maier way. Next month he'll unveil a Bottega Veneta shop on Melrose Place in L.A. with an entirely new store concept; it'll be built to resemble nothing more so than a home.