#SuzyMFW: Bottega Veneta – Out in the Open Air
Finally it has happened. A moment of shock and awe at the Milan fashion shows as an established designer brought a new and vibrant energy to his work.
The fashion hero was Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta, who broke a career of excellent elegance with a sporty collection that took him metaphorically into the open air.
As an introduction, soundtracked by "The Blue Danube", the models strode boldly down the runway in patterned sportswear, mixing the flotsam adrift on the shoreline with a spotty leopard print. They looked like figures off to exercise class - or more likely to a yacht race - in their colourful jackets and brief bathing bottoms.
"More and more I want to be in the open air," said Maier, dressed at Bottega's streamlined Milan headquarters as if for the great outdoors: jacket, thick trousers and hefty boots. "It's about being in nature, the big open skies, the idea of water."
The greatest thing a designer can do is to change tack, rather than sailing gracefully into the sunset.
Everything that Maier did for this collection was in his spirit, but freshened up. The new wave brought in hooded sweatshirts and blousons, mostly in the finest of fabrics such as calf hair or shearling. But the clothes never suggested a bourgeois luxury - it seemed more as though the materials had spent days on a boat lashed by waves. Evening dresses had long skirts rigged up, made out of viscose and polyester sail cloth - a fashion flashback to when in the past the Bottega Veneta show finale was of nylon evening gowns.
Maier shows powerful determination to change Bottega's image without alienating his loyal customers. The patterned dresses might have been bold, but the same print for an over-the-knee skirt worn with a striped sweater was elegant.
The shoes were flat sandals or platforms, strong enough to take this new Bottega woman on her long stride.