Tomas Maier professed amazement at the changes in the men he sees on the streets of New York, unabashedly displaying their pampered selves. "They're taking over the female role," he said wonderingly. Which is good news for a designer like Maier, who has always played to a man's physical, sensual side. And never more so than with today's Bottega Veneta show, which, he said, was more about "movement and freedom" than anything he's done before.

In keeping with that, Maier showed a collection that was inspired by dancers, everyone from Nureyev and Baryshnikov to break-dancers in the street. Elevated by some particularly empathetic styling, the theme infused a presentation of deluxe workout wear. With their headbands and tap shoes, washed-out scoop-neck tank tops, rolled-up track pants, and long johns, the models were Broadway hoofers fresh from rehearsal (though you wondered how many of them could afford the intrecciato backpack, the signature bag of the collection).

Maier likes clothes that look like they've lived a life, so he added some extravagantly worn knits to the mix, including one sweater that appeared to have been attacked with a paint roller, and another that seemed to have a child's crayon scrawl around the neck. Everything was unbuttoned, folded down, rolled up. In this context, even the more conventional clothes the designer showed—like a generously cut double-breasted suit—took on a louche physicality. There is often an iconic Hollywood reference buried deep in Maier's collections, and here the one that came to mind was James Dean at his dance classes in the fifties. However much a flight of fancy that might be, it's hard to imagine Maier disapproving.