Tomas Maier claimed inspiration from “the creative life” for his latest Bottega Veneta collection. The man he had in mind was “someone who doesn’t think about clothes; he dresses from necessity—’It’s cold, I’ll wear a cardigan.'” That nonchalance underpinned the seemingly random ways that fabrics and colors were pulled together—or, in the case of the elasticized-waist trousers that were a key ingredient of the collection, pulled on. They were just about the most banal item we’ve ever seen in a major fashion collection, let alone one that stands for the last word in luxury, but it was a testament to Maier’s perverse skills that he made their casualness look relatively sophisticated. He’s always pursued the notion of “clothes that have lived a life,” and the pull-on pant certainly made that grade in a rust knit, matched to a purple blouson in a washed corduroy, or a similarly shaded velvet under a gray suede coat, or pink cord under a camel jacket.

Someone had a lot of fun naming the colors in this collection: The purple was “byzantine,” orange was “persimmon,” gray was “ardoise,” and pink was “mallow,” which suggested that the creative life Maier envisaged was one lived by an artist. In fact, the collection’s random air was evenly matched by tailored pieces—a double-breasted suit, jackets in a pied-de-poule or classic herringbone—that added a suited sartorial edge evocative of the way even the artiest types dressed before the ’60s ripped up the rule book and cast it to the winds. Squint and you might see a young Lucian Freud or Francis Bacon in the tousle-haired insouciance of the models. There were other details that compounded that impression, like the rim of a white shirt collar painted Kelly green, or the blurry overlay of color on a broad-shouldered jacket in herringbone. It was in such transformative flourishes that Maier made his design presence felt, subtly transfiguring the overtly familiar with his own artistry.

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