Tomas Maier is done with ballet. Finito. His Fall clothes for Bottega Veneta could hardly be more different than the easy, dancer-ly layers he showed last season. Structure replaced slouch, and electric color took over from faded neutrals. Sweeping shifts haven’t tended to be the Maier way, but that’s what we got this season, starting from the very first look: Edie Campbell again, but this time in a Lurex dot sweater and matching tailored men’s pants.

Just before she hit the runway, David Bowie was on the soundtrack, narrating Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf: “Each character in this tale is going to be represented by a different instrument of the orchestra.” Campbell’s black-on-white op art spots, and the head-to-toe ones that followed on a sweater vest, silk blouse, and full-legged trousers, among other looks, are not for the tame. Neither was a cape in an oversize, crosshatched motif with pronounced epaulet-tailored shoulders. But that was sort of the point. This was Maier—possibly bored, probably tired of all the sameness in fashion—trumpeting not the subdued sophistication he normally does chez BV, but renegade individuality.

He was operating with utter conviction here, and when a designer does that, it’s compelling. Still, you sensed the bold approach will give some of his loyal fans pause. Maier was at his most persuasive when he tempered the graphics with other things in a slightly lower key, like the brushstroke-print skirt that was worn with a jacquard sweater, or a crosshatched sweatshirt he paired with a simple black skirt. Short cocktail dresses, whose geometric patterns and bright colors were veiled in black lace that inched up the neck to flutter at the chin, looked sensational. Giving women a little personal wiggle room just might be the most individual gesture of all.

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