With careful, virtually noiseless steps, Tomas Maier has moved up on the outside of fashion to give renewed credibility to that overused and downgraded term, luxury. If genuine luxury resides in out-of-the-ordinary things crafted with an intimate understanding of a life attainable only by the few, then Bottega Veneta could well stand as its contemporary definition. Crucially, Maier's point of view values the personal over the trendily available. His central principle, that "clothes are a means of expression, not an end in themselves," means he has in his sights a woman who likes to look like a woman—curvaceous, individualistic, and beautifully grown-up.

It was there from the start today in the quiet but impactful glamour that picked up on a vaguely forties silhouette via a built-out shoulder folded into a cap sleeve that drew attention to a narrow, sometimes corseted torso, which then flared outward to the skirt. It's a way of treating suits and coats with details that rise above retro—say, a sprouting of blanket fringing on a layered skirt or shoulder, a puffy pocket on a jacket, or a bloused curve caught in the small of the back of a coat.

The eveningwear was just as good, and, at points, charged with an elegant eroticism, worked through satin bra tops and then three stunning black columns topped with flesh-colored crepe chiffon (quadruple-layered to ensure modesty). Overall, the achievement was that Bottega's ultraluxe ready-to-wear is seeming less and less like a background foil for its founding leather goods. Even so, Maier is steadily moving the signature bags onward and upward. Among the new soft hobos and hard clutches, the classic soft woven tote is still there, but it now comes in tinted lizard. The company notes that prices reaching $75,000 do not deter collectors, and given Maier's insight into such customers—who will likely fall for a multistrapped python sandal and a pair of pavé-set diamond bobble earrings without a second thought—it seems the designer can hardly put a foot wrong.