Apparently the most modern thing a brand can do in fashion today is present its menswear and womenswear lines together. All the techy, forward-thinking brands are at it - see Gucci and Burberry. It’s amusing then that for Bottega Veneta’s debut mixed gender show, Tomas Maier went decidedly retro. There was no androgyny here, no easy silhouettes to nod to the increasingly casual nature of modern dress codes. No - for men, the tuxedo was the starting point for each look, hence the proliferation of awkward bowties. For women, the stories were retro form fitting pieces that harked back to past stellar forties-inspired collections by Maier, and tailoring with exaggerated shapes - see those comedy jodhpurs worn by Eva Herzigová to open the show. The show notes informed us that, 'materials are expressive.' On first glance, maybe because the show kicked off at 09:30, I misread that as 'expensive'. That too would have been true - alongside the more subtle cashmeres were plenty of eye-catching, showy goat and shearling.
Maier mused that the collection started from a precise shoulder line - sharp, exaggerated. Who’d have thought that the shoulder would cause such a stir over the past few seasons? Today, it’s the body part to play with. Demna Gvasalia’s take on the shoulder has sparked a thousand copies. Was Maier’s equally as timely? Well, it certainly had punch on the runway, even if it felt slightly more like costume than a clothing proposition. Maybe it was that nostalgic wavy Hollywood movie hair on the girls, or those aforementioned bowties on the boys, but it felt that the collection had become trapped under layers of artifice. Strip them away and you had some gems - those ultra flattering, softer tea dresses shone despite the showy shoes and patterned tights. You could imagine them having a real life off the runway. Indeed, in his notes Maier explained how he intended for the men’s and women’s collections to 'compliment' each other and 'speak the same language'. But who were they talking too? I wasn’t sure, and at points I wasn’t convinced that even they were on the same page.