There's often something attractive about imperfection, and certainly the human touch. And that's what Maier always aims to bring to his work at Bottega Veneta.
It's difficult to put your finger on what makes Tomas Maier's work for Bottega Veneta quite so seductive. It's certainly not about sex-appeal, at least not in the blatant Italian mould of digitally-enhanced bulges and washboard torsos. Then again, there's often something attractive about imperfection, and certainly the human touch. And that's what Maier always aims to bring to his work at Bottega Veneta, the sense of the craft and the craftsman.
That was preciselyMaier's inspiration for A/W 2011 - the idea of the craft, the process of fashion defining the clothing itself. That has a parallel in the early work of Rei Kawakubo: those early shredded Comme Des Garçons sweaters were pocked with holes because Kawakubo removed screws from her knitting apparatus, so the machinery couldn't quite do its job perfectly. That's a long way from the faultless technique of Bottega Veneta's workrooms, but it belongs to the same ethos - questioning the status quo of luxury fashion.
In Italy, that questioning begins with the aesthetics of luxury. Not for Bottega the glitz and glamour of Milan's power players - the opening quintet of grey suits set the tone: tone-on-tone, that is, each a slightly twisted variation on classic grey Prince-of-Wales check, albeit seemingly scribbled and cross-hatched across the fabric in a combination of print and weave. The ankle-boots, tapered trousers and upturned lapels nodded to the eighties, but only out of politeness - Maier shrank the shoulders, and those beloved quadruple pleats ended up a mere whisper of volume at the thigh. Lest we forget, the flash-trash eighties also had an appreciation for quiet luxury: American Psycho's anti-hero Patrick Bateman carried his knives in a Bottega Veneta briefcase, and it's easy to imagine him trading that in for next season's man-clutch in Lurpak-soft crocodile, or maybe investing in a pair of gloves with woven-leather wrist-straps.
If this were the glances to the past, Maier's way with colour felt entirely contemporary. Primary tones have been pepping up catwalks everywhere, and Bottega's were some of the best: a dense, saturated watermelon pink in a felted wool trench, creased cords in chutney orange or mustard, and the crash of sulphur yellow, black and peridot-green in a single outfit. He also picked up on the mood for dressed-up evening but removed the fuss and muss - slouchy smoking jackets in dusty, rumpled velvet were luxurious, but with the ease of a cardigan. They were a leitmotif not only of this collection, but Tomas Maier's entire approach to fashion.