All hail the dress! Tomas Maier lasered intense focus on the silhouette in his brilliant Bottega Veneta show today, cutting forties-style frocks with strong but not hard shoulders and slender, body-loving shapes. In a less accomplished designer's hands, a collection like this one—there were no pants and just one coat among the 33 looks—could prove repetitive, dull. Here each little number looked like a treasure you'd discover in the best vintage shop in the world, but without the dust. The retro stylings of so many Milanese brands this season are not for Maier. Yes, these dresses glanced back at the past, but the cuts were thoroughly modern and the embroideries state-of-the-art. You know a designer has a hit on his hands when more than one woman walks out uttering the same breathless line, "I want every single piece."

It was the workmanship that made these dresses so special—they were very obviously labored over but never belabored. Take the day dress worn by Ruby Aldridge, collaged from two different flower prints, the bodice folded and pintucked and the seams, all of them, edged with glossy strips of snakeskin lined with matte bronze studs. It will cost a fortune, but it'll be worth every cent. Same goes for a party dress in a Givernylike floral with wispy, frayed-edge sleeves that was crisscrossed with diagonal lines of gleaming jet lozenges descending into dense clusters at the hem. "It's about making women feel confident," Maier said backstage. Confident—and beautiful. There wasn't a man or woman in the room who wasn't seduced.