MILAN, Italy — Tomas Maier’s collections for Bottega Veneta are usually most striking when the movie playing in his head is a film noir. And so it was this morning. Maier said he was ready to move on from the sportier looks that have been absorbing him of late.
The long, menswear-inflected tailoring and the lean knit dresses — drizzled with a little celluloid sparkle and shown with Pat McGrath’s dark lips and Guido Palau’s sleek hair — exuded the glamour of a contemporary femme fatale. After softening the tailoring on his men’s collection in January, Maier wanted to carry the new tactility into his womenswear.
Knits were an obvious move. The opening look — a coat in black cashmere over matching pants, with a long scarf to emphasise the elongation — set the tone. The double-breasted cashmere trouser suits that followed sealed it with their strong, simple authority. And a long coat in leopard-printed pony put the exclamation mark on Maier’s glamorous intent. Then Maier took knits away to wonderful places: coats with the ease of a bathrobe, double-breastededs with the softness of cardigans, smart check pants, sweater-and-skirt sets, with a skinny belt to highlight the waist, the same again as trompe l’oeil one-pieces.
He began to shoot a little lurex into the mix and sprinkle some sequins on oversize coats in a dark wool check, like the sparkle of rain on film noir mean street. Maier has a special cinematic knack for imbuing the ladylike with something darker. Here, he exercised it in floral silk shifts veiled in black organza. The sweet and the sinister — all at once.
His final looks compounded the impression with pale, pleated knit-and-lurex party frocks that came topped with a “bralette.” Now why did that seem like a dangerously knowing touch? It’s questions like that which give the best Bottega collections an irresistible tug. And this was one of those collections.