by Alex R. Travers
You might call Thomas Maier’s Fall 2014 men’s collection for Bottega Veneta an eye-opener, since he ditched the mod Madison Avenue male for a more causal man with a sportier edge (not one necktie in the entire collection). But these kinds of shifts are implicit in Maier’s manifesto: “You want to go and discover something you don’t expect to see.”
The opening look today—a charcoal Henley worn under a richly textured black Chesterfield that hovered over a pair of…wait for it…track pants—dictated that pleasure of the unexpected. The ribbing on the bottom of the joggers, for example, tightly hugged the ankles and gave the silhouette a relaxed feel. The cuffs and bottoms of the bombers had extended ribbing, too, that bloused the jackets out ever so slightly. Even one of his suit blazers had ribbed cuffs and a fine-gauge knit dickey—a testament to Maier’s fixation on the row-pattern process.
What was especially noteworthy was the designer’s use of color. Using sweaters that looked like linen canvases, he painted uneven Morris Lewis–like lines on a sleeve or a collar and left the rest bare. There was more of that Washington Color School ethos evident in the suiting: subtle hints of burnt blues, reds, or greens that revealed themselves on the cuffs and bottom edges of the blazers. These touches, he admitted, were added during the fitting stage.
But the order of his methods is no matter. What is important is Maier’s hyper focus on the design process itself, which he revealed today in both the styling (lifted lapels on jackets, neatly tucked roll necks, perfectly placed scarves, messy hair) and in the less-is-more simplicity of the accessories and clothes (bags designed with no visible stitching, practical outerwear). In fact, he likes the idea of being invisible: “The better the clothes are, the less you see of them.” And whether he’s crafting suits or sportswear, the pleasure of his clothes is ultimately derived from living in them.