Gigi Hadid and Lauren Hutton, two modeling greats of their times, walked arm in arm as Tomas Maier’s symbol of what Bottega Veneta is all about—a classy way of carrying on. Hadid was wearing a sporty, dusty rose pink taffeta top and pants, Hutton a beige trench coat. Maier doesn’t do pomp and ceremony; his spring collection was, even by his rigorous standards, an extreme exercise in restraint—or as he described it afterward, about the aesthetics of “nothing” clothes. Yet this was a grand occasion: the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bottega Veneta. The connection with Hutton is that she carried an intrecciato woven clutch bag in the 1980 movie American Gigolo. It’s been reproduced as a company milestone re-edition among 14 other bags from the archive.
The value of the living tradition of Italian handwork has been a theme of Milan Fashion Week—with the vocal support of the Italian prime minister. But as wondrous as Bottega Veneta’s unique handwoven technique may be (or anyone’s, for that matter), crafts can only be made exciting and desirable in the light of fashion, and that’s what Maier has successfully brought to the accessory house in his time as creative director. He takes issue, though, with many of the practices of fashion marketing. When asked backstage if he intended to make a point about Bottega being a house for grownups, he shot back, “It’s never about an age group. I dislike any kind of classification, by skin tone or age—it’s something I detest.” Rather, to be a Bottega customer, “you need to like something quiet” and to be “a little more cultivated about materials.”