For any busy, intelligent woman who loves fashion, Tomas Maier's words backstage were pure nectar. “It's about moving on — yet it is always the same thing: being thoughtful about women and what they might like and need. And thinking about the variety of women there are and their ages too.”
As Gigi Hadid, 21, today's fresh-faced top model, walked 72-year-old actress Lauren Hutton down the runway — a celebration of youthful and lasting beauty — the applause became a roar. Behind them, Maier led his team, tears flowing, along the old stone pathway of the Brera Academy, where Bottega supports student programmes.
Clothing without borders is an exceptional concept in this age of fast fashion. There was literally nothing inappropriate for anyone in the Bottega Veneta collection. It was just a question of choice. Gigi wore a blush pink top and trousers; Lauren Hutton a belted beige raincoat. They could have swapped their outfits, each bringing a personality to the garment. You felt that these were clothes to be hung in the closet for a fashion life everlasting. That is true of the re-make of the red clutch that Hutton carried back in 1980 in American Gigolo. It was one of 15 vintage Bottega bags to be brought back to life.
“I am always thinking about private luxury — you own something and you really get to understand it because the experience of wearing it elevates it to another level,” said the designer in one of many wise statements.
How smart of Maier to create — and for both sexes in this show — looks designed for that long shelf life, but that were adaptable to different personalities and moods. There were black leather jackets (for men) and ink-dark dresses with a womanly curve in a lacy front. There was colour. Make that COLOUR! — like the surprise of leather shirt-dresses in shocking pink, scarlet and yellow — and then a chalkier version in pale turquoise, bleached yellow and blush pink.
There were certain standards, especially with gentle, over-the-knee hemlines that Tomas picked out for comment saying, “I always like a longer length — this collection has fluidity, a long line, ease of movement — and pleasure in wearing”.
Craftsmanship is at the root of Bottega Veneta since the days when the company worked leather and made handbags. The designer also took accessories in hand, offering various sizes and shapes for different lives. It is difficult to judge handbags moving on the runway, but it was evident that Maier takes the same attitude to leather goods as to clothes. No model fell off her shoes or carried a bag too small for her purse and cell phone.
The real achievement of Maier, as part of the Kering group, is to keep the dream of luxury alive in an age of vulgarity. Whether the female models wore sporty styles edged with embellishment or a male model had a suit in shiny shantung, they each looked appropriate. And comfortable. And elegant, in a modern way. A minor miracle for fashion in this millennium.