Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2011-2012

Tim Blanks review

The music for Bottega Veneta today featured an ominous David Lynch soundtrack, which amplified the dark, undone mood of the collection. ("Austere," the press notes called it.) Tomas Maier really had another director in mind, though—the Italian Michelangelo Antonioni, who started out in monochrome neorealism before introducing startling Technicolor into his repertoire in the classic Red Desert. That was kind of the order of things with the clothes the designer showed.

Maier too started with monochrome: dark wool suits, the fabric textured, distressed-looking, the jacket lapels turned up and doubled by the addition of a lapel scarf; trousers tucked loosely into ankle boots; shirts untucked. The first impression was raw. One jacket zipped open across a horizontal center seam, coming apart. Then came the shots of Technicolor: eye-popping orange-red or gemstone green cords, a bright blue duffel, a trench in that red shade.

Maier accepts that the fundamentals of men's fashion don't change that much. "To evolve, you have to reinvent what you already have," he says. One way he does that is by injecting character into his clothes. His men somehow seem like archetypes, never more so than the leather-clad guys who strode down his catwalk today. A washed-leather trench even had a sinister edge. So did an evening jacket in inky velvet. That's Maier's almost cinematic power of suggestion.

Something else that Maier understands is desire. In this collection, the lightness, the lack of obvious structure, the way a cardigan might be layered casually over a jacket implied freedom from restrictions of all kinds. And that's the kind of reinvention many men would crave.


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