A Matter Of Maier: Bottega Veneta’s Creative Director On His Uncompromising Vision

Unlike other fashion powerhouses whose names evoke the grand achievements of their eponymous founders, Bottega Veneta’s unassuming moniker—it simply means “Venetian workshop”—pays homage to its humble beginnings as a leather goods maker. Founded in 1966 by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro, the brand’s straightforward name went hand-in-hand with its clear-yet-ambitious plan to provide quality products that meld top-end materials with top-notch craftsmanship.

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For the past 50 years, such is the solid foundation on which the Italian marque has built its business and reputation upon. Today, Bottega Veneta has grown from a modest atelier to a reputable luxury behemoth. Like what its famous motto—“When your own initials are enough”—suggests, just the mere mention of “BV” is enough to conjure up breath-taking images of discreet sophistication backed by unparalleled expertise.

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Interestingly, it has managed to accomplish all these without the usual trappings of logos, or bells and whistles. Much of the brand’s success has been credited to Tomas Maier, who stepped in as Creative Director in 2001 and immediately masterminded Bottega Veneta’s ascent by stripping away unwanted layers of excess. “I always like an object that is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside,” Maier explained during a previous interview with Harper’s BAZAAR. “That’s what luxury is all about. It’s very personal. Nobody needs to know.”

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But any discerning customer who steps into the Bottega Veneta world knows one thing for sure: To walk away from its plush stores with a purchase is akin to making a sound investment that’ll stand the test of time. This is the case for the Cabat bag, one of Bottega Veneta’s most representative bags that features the brand’s signature intrecciato weave. Designed by Maier and released in 2001, the shopping basket-style bag remains trend-proof; new variations of the Cabat are perfected with cutting-edge techniques that push Bottega Veneta’s skills to new frontiers.

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A refusal to pander to fashion’s fickle tastes has allowed Maier to carve out a niche in the industry that is entirely Bottega Veneta’s. “I tell a woman that something is good,” Maier adds in the same interview, “And then six months later I tell her it’s good again.” Each season, his approach to creating Bottega Veneta’s women’s and men’s ready-to-wear lines (he launched those in 2002 and 2006 respectively) is about refining a formula that creates functional clothes which fit into the lives of its wearer. Necklines, silhouettes and proportions are subtly tweaked to suit the seasons, but they all boast the same attention to detail and longevity that’s now a cornerstone of all Bottega Veneta’s products.

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From diaphanous gowns to sleek pantsuits, Maier’s clothes are complex in their simplicity. For example, a special needle-punch technique replicates the effect of paint brushed over a sweater, while a pair of shorts that seem tailored from waxed cotton is actually paper-thin leather. There’s always more than meets the eye with Maier’s thinking designs, but ultimately each seam and stitch serves a purpose and function—a common thread that ties Maier’s uncompromising vision for Bottega Veneta into one timeless tale.

By Gerald Tan

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