Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, says that he is never happier than when he is outdoors. The delightful herb garden and vegetable plot, which sits in the elegant courtyard of the Bottega Veneta HQ, is testament to the designer’s need to bring the rural life into the urban environ. He says the more he can get out of the city, ‘the better it gets.’ This season, his love for hiking, sailing and big nature experiences have not only energised his soul, but have inspired a collection.
In less experienced hands, this theme could have been a risky one – and this approach certainly felt like challenging new ground for the designer. Careful not to make it feel too literal, he expressed his outdoors narrative via materials. Bottega Veneta creates all of its materials in house, so it was a good opportunity to show a wide a range of the typical artisan fabrics we have come to expect from the house alongside more technical materials. Dynamic rigour arrived via incredible skirts that asymmetrically folded out like sails on a boat. Roping was a key detailing, and was used with best effect on the back of backless dresses. Incidentally, this collection looked far better in real life than it does in photographs. The 2D screen flattened the construction with which these dresses moved. Maier is a craftsman who designs in a 360 degree fashion. Many of these clothes looked as good from the back or the side, as they do from the front. Some of these dresses were a slightly more pared down version of the previous goddess dresses he has created for the label. Nonetheless divine, these aquatic sporty versions were as if Venus had jumped from her shell, and picked up a pair of oars.
There was a lot of leopard print in the collection, which did confuse. Maybe added to create a commercially winning spine for the collection, it didn’t fit with the narrative and wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the shownotes. It also didn’t feel very on brand, either. What did enchant were scribbly autumn leaf prints on sporty silhouettes, slubby knits in heather and bonfire red, and mesh appliqués upon which micro sailing rigs created a macramé effect. A rising sun effect saw rope threaded through a skirt, and created a stunning drawstring effect, whilst papery cotton dresses and trenches were breezy enough to blow away any stresses of the city life.