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Bottega Veneta

Tomas Maier may be fashion’s premier alchemist. In his hands, just about anything, even something seemingly naff, is transformed into good taste. This season’s Bottega Veneta collection was a case in point, chock-full of ideas that on the surface could have been iffy. Spray-painted coats and cashmere knits. Tweed check paired with a slightly different knit check worn over a button-down with yet another version of the check printed, glossily, on the collar. A tangerine-toned top-and-skirt set. Lime green, in general. The list goes on. It’s really impossible to figure out how he does it, but Maier has the ability to make a sort of garish, magnified mineral print wear like a sober neutral. The trick, of course, is in the detail—the trim proportions of that tangerine leather look, for instance, made it read as rather understated. The juxtaposition of all those mismatched checks was finessed to just-so perfection. Maier’s spray-painted coats and knits worked to give his decorous, ’60s-ish silhouettes an industrial gloss, updating the aesthetic and veering it away from retro kitsch. Imagine Camelot-era Jackie Kennedy on a tour of the gallery scene in late-’90s East Berlin—that was the tone. Inevitably, it worked. And in both directions; the quirky touches helped him avoid the trap of dull good taste. Maier’s best bad ideas were his duchesse satin sweats—which he said he could see worn for day or evening—and his demurely ridiculous shoes. What woman doesn’t want to be so fabulous that she can just slouch around town in duchesse? And what woman won’t—more realistically—feel a little smile creep into her heart as she dons a pair of this season’s quirky multicolored block heels? Truly, Maier is the man with the Midas touch.

—Maya Singer,

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