Sublime style and peerless craftsmanship replace logos as Bottega Veneta heralds a spirit of subtle luxury. Creative Director, Tomas Maier, is the man behind the brand.
Steeped in style and bent on craftsmanship, Bottega Veneta's Creative Director, Tomas Maier sets the tone for the new spirit of luxury.
Since its inception more than half a century ago, Bottega Veneta has furtively risen through the ranks of the luxury market, although not without its share of challenges. A slump in the 90s prompted a sell of to Gucci Group. However, the fortuitous transaction led to the appointment of the company's current Creative Director Tomas Maier. As a former graduate of Paris' Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture the German designer cut his sartorial teeth in the prominent French luxury house, Hermes, and Sonia Rykiel before his recruitment by Gucci, at the behest of Tom Ford. Under Maier's creative guidance, Bottega Veneta has, once again, flourished into a benchmark for style and sophistication for both men and women. Eschewing the showy monograms of its contemporaries, Bottega Veneta's calling card is craftsmanship. The combination of sublime fabrics, the deceptively simple silhouette of a well-cut dress and the intrecciato weave of Italian leather – a signature of the Italian house – tip a discreet nod to those in the know, but, since the outset, both Bottega Veneta and Maier stand resolute in the belief that quality speaks for itself.
In 2002 the creative director extended the brand's iconic style beyond the wardrobe, applying the celebrated weave to a wider vision, from fine jewelry, to furnishings and ceramics. Delicious leather bound library tables and intrecciato woven camp style benches hark back to the glamour the golden days of travel. This lifestyle aspect has given rise to collaborations with contemporaries within the world of interiors, from the revered Italian furniture producer, Poltrona Frau, to the sumptuous suites of The St. Regis' New York and Rome addresses. Maier reveals the inspiration behind Bottega Veneta.
Tomas Maier's definition of luxury:
Luxury is so personal. For me, it's something rare and of the finest quality.
If luxury were...
A view of the horizon.
Someone you love whom you rarely get to see.
My garden, early in the morning.
In your opinion, what are the most important elements of style?
Self-confidence, quality, and individuality.
Which designers inspired you the most at the outset of your career, and why?
I've always admired designers like Cristobal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent, individuals whose vision and talent altered the course of fashion.
Your father was an architect. Your suites for The St. Regis hotels and Bottega Veneta's living collection illustrate your flair for the home, what made you choose fashion over architecture or interior design?
I don't know, really. Probably I wanted to follow my own path. I have always loved architecture and furniture design, but I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a fashion designer.
You collect books, porcelain and art - particularly photography. What inspired your collections and what are your most prized pieces?
I've been collecting for many years; from the time I was first able to afford something more than the rent. My collection of photography isn't huge but it has a very clear point of view. My most recent purchases include works by Sam Taylor-Wood, Naoya Hatakeyama, and Massimo Vitali.
Do you feel that your interests have influenced Bottega Veneta's direction, in terms of the lifestyle aspect and the artistic element of the brand?
Yes, definitely. I think that's what a creative director is supposed to do.
Under your creative leadership, Bottega Veneta has expanded into many areas, from hotel design to pet accessories, what convinced you, the company and many of today's luxury brands that it is important to offer an entire lifestyle vision?
Botega Veneta is above all an aesthetic sensibility and a level of quality and craftsmanship. We knew our customers wanted that sensibility and workmanship in other aspects of their life.
Do the materials used in the homewares collection relate to the fashion collections?
Many of the materials are the same, as are the design elements. Both use leather, linen, cashmere, and exotic skins. Intrecciato is as prominent in the home collection as in the fashion. And if you examine the furniture, you can see that it was directly inspired by Bottega Veneta's hard-case luggage.
What are the challenges, differences and similarities between creating furniture and interiors, and designing fashion or jewelry collections?
For me, design is a process that applies to furniture and jewelry the same way it does to clothes and accessories. The challenge lies in the differences in construction and functionality between the different products.
Given that you have covered so many arenas of lifestyle, will we possibly see Bottega Veneta moving into the art arena, either with the creation of an arts foundation, a residency program or maybe even Bottega Veneta art?
I think it's important to keep art and fashion separate, because art usually suffers when it's heavily influenced by commerce. But I believe in supporting the arts in every way possible and Bottega Veneta will continue to develop its efforts in that area.
Bottega Veneta enjoys successful collaborations with high end manufacturers, such as KPM and Poltrona Frau. How do these projects come about?
It depends on the product. Usually we decide upon a project and then go in search of the ideal partner. The St. Regis was a bit different because we already had a relationship. We share a building in NY and had designed a handbag commemorating their 100th anniversary.
Who's idea was it to begin collaborative projects at the outset?
The Bottega Veneta brand is collaborative by definition—it's always been a joint effort between the designer and the artisans. I was eager to expand upon that because it's a process I enjoy and one that adds enormously to the individuality of the brand..
What is the most interesting thing you have learned about your clients?
I'm always interested and inspired by the personal styles of our clients. They have great confidence, flair, and individuality.
Do you see the global economic downturn affecting luxury brands, such as Bottega Veneta? What kind of effect do you think it will have in the future?
Certainly the global economy affects luxury brands. However, business remains very strong for us and I think the impact of a downturn on the luxury business as a whole will be limited.