A few seasons back, Tomas Maier did a Bottega Veneta collection solely devoted to dresses. The one he showed today had a similarly sharp focus. Not a pair of pants or, for that matter, a jacket to be found. But it would be a mistake to call it a simple collection of sweaters, skirts, and dresses. Quite the opposite. What it was, in fact, was an in-depth exploration of cut and pattern-making, one that showcased Maier's inventiveness on the one hand and his keen appreciation for fit on the other. It was outstanding.

Maier said something apparently straightforward but telling at his pre-fall presentation back in December: "It's about putting the color in the right place to make a woman feel good. It's what we're here to do." That rather humble statement applied to what he achieved today, too. Cases in point: He spliced geometric panels of burnt-red leather into the midriff of a black crepe dress, and he boldly arranged the striped swatches of crepe on another dress in ways that subtly shaped the body.

"Puzzles" was the word he used backstage before the show, and a lot of technical know-how went into these pieces. But the results were as far away from fussy as you can get. That's down to the fact that the silhouettes were understated: sleeveless or long-sleeve, with a little nip at the waist, and a swishy bit of movement in the knee-length skirt courtesy of some pleats. That's it. Only with Maier, a pleat is not necessarily a pleat. A charcoal flannel skirt was painted and beaded trompe l'oeil-style to evoke the pleating effect. Another time he used a zigzag seam below the hips to create the illusion. But real or pretend, there was a genuine sense of comfort here, which was one key to the collection's appeal. It's no small task making dresses that are as unfettered as these but still pack so much graphic energy. Maier did it handily.