The question Tomas Maier asked himself when designing his latest Bottega Veneta collection seems an obvious one, but it is something a great many designers seem to forget in the transition from sketchbook to catwalk: 'What does a woman want to wear every day?' Maier's answer to that conundrum throughout his career has been a kind of easy, discrete sportswear, luxurious in material but rarely showing it.
The best part of the S/S 2011 Bottega Veneta collection followed that well-established mantra, offering luxurious twists on everyday staples. Example: cargo trousers looked like slouchy cotton, but were in fact washed nappa, likewise vests and sporty anoraks that seemed to be aertex but were actually perforated suede. That idea of slicing and dicing holes into fabrics gave them an ethereal airiness, a concept explored elsewhere, with wide, easy linen dresses in black or subtle neutrals with tonal feather appliques fluttering free of the body.
There were a few slightly more overt touches of luxury: a crocodile bandeau top and matching sleeveless jacket can hardly be called everyday, but by and large the collection stayed casual, sporty and understated. Perhaps too understated - Maier was evidently offering his woman a wardrobe for her very real life, but doesn't the Bottega Veneta woman dress up any more? The evening-wear was restricted to a couple of trailing, floor-length silk jersey kaftans, and possibly some paper-bag waist floor-length skirts, although they looked more Earth Mother than Metropolitan Fundraiser. But when he sent out a pair of neat, softly-tailored washed silk suits in shades of oatmeal and sage, exposed seams fluttering and clutching hyper-luxe crocodile envelope bags, it looked like a wholly new and interesting alternative to stuffy formality. That's what women will want to wear everyday, after dark.