It was energising to see something new in Milan: no sportswear, no 1960s, no primary colours, no loud prints.
This is the art of Tomas Maier’s Bottega Veneta – whatever is going on in the rest of the fashion universe, he always treads his own sure-footed path with a gentle, forever quality, that still manages to get the pulse racing, half way through the show season, at 9.30am.
He said it was an evolution from last season’s silhouettes, working on a more angular shoulder for jackets, but over all he wanted it to be more feminine, fresh and young. ‘And confident, too. I really want women to feel confident in our clothes,’ he said.
The message was dresses. Floral tea dresses – a padded shoulder with a short sleeve, narrow waist and just-below-knee hem, in silk or crepe, each carrying an individual flower print, in dusky shades of peach, burgundy, yellow and vintage-lingerie pink. These and the shoes – high, with a hefty heel and square toe – had a 1940s feel to them. Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese’s cult 1970s film, Taxi Driver, could be heard on the sound system – so was this the 1930s as seen through the 1970s, the big era of Bottega’s heritage?
He refused to be pinned down to any era backstage – and rightly so, Maier isn’t about to be pigeonholed by anything as obvious as a retro decade for inspiration.
‘It’s easy for a woman to dress in a way that sends a simple message: serious or sexy or bohemian or whatever,’ said Maier, ‘It’s much harder to come across in a multifaceted way…These are clothes for women who’d rather not be summed up in a word or two.'
What Maier does is to infuse all that he makes with such a profusion of subtle prints and rich and complex hand-crafted textures that they not only become undefinable, they are even more cherished on close inspection.