Though it was founded near Venice and boasts a German designer, the overriding mood in the latest collection from Bottega Veneta was the easy charm of southern California.
For no brand in menswear better expresses the biggest dominant trend in men's fashion today, nonchalance sportswear, than Bottega Veneta, the Italian label that is the master of understated luxury under the direction of designer Tomas Maier.
On Sunday, June 24, in Milan, its spring 2013 BV collection was based on the simplest of all garments - the pullover, or a half dozen variations from Breton fisherman to Comanche warrior. Crewnecks, drawstring collars or tops fringed like a Sioux brave, the designer riffed on the look like a jazz musician vamping on a series of scales.
Though, after some 30 largely monochrome outfits, the show's key moment was a quartet of muddied floral print looks, most notably a double layer version covered in silk organza.
"I think making menswear in women's fabrics is, well, a very interesting challenge. And it can look great," Maier said backstage. And smart in terms of comfort, as a heat wave hits the Italian peninsula, the idea of shantung, organza and spongy silk - the dominant fabrics in this show - all seemed highly attractive.
Moreover, Maier is such an inventive designer and Bottega Veneta such a great laboratory of materials, that a fabric like "sailor's suede" looks more like as Egyptian cotton. The designer also sent out sure-to-be-hit putty suede sneakers, inserted with Bottega's signature busy bee logo in red, as well as new Aussie farmer boots in shaggy suede. A series of messenger bags or weekender on route to a rural chateau weekend totes addressed BV's keep profit driver - its famed woven intrecciato leather products.
The big news however was the easy charm of this collection, and the lesson that the art of looking successful is by dressing ever so slightly down, though always with flamboyance. Just like this collection.