Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier and his Pursuit of Perfection

Although his given name was Thomas, German-born Tomas Maier later dropped the “h,” he tells us, in a quest for symmetry. After nine years at Hermès (and Sonia Rykiel and Revillon before that), the creative director of the Italian house Bottega Veneta—which he’s reinvigorated and made into one of the most sought-after names in fashion—is still pursuing calm, understated, luxurious perfection. Even when he designs a fishnet bodysuit, as he did for fall, it’s the most discreet bodysuit you’ve ever seen. He also prefers to have his base in Florida, where he can work on his own line beach fare and stay far removed from the fashion fray of Milan. For a man who’s always done things his way, why not?…

Okay, so why did you drop the “h”?
I lost it in a youthful quest for symmetry in my own label.

What does fashion need now more than ever before?

What would you like to try your hand at that you haven’t?
I’d like to build a house. 

Speaking of, you’re a fan of [American architect] Addison Mizner, and you’ve said that in one of his houses, near where you live in Florida, there’s a small window in the living room, so that you could see the ocean as Mizner wanted. How does this idea relate to your view at Bottega Veneta?
He took something precious, an ocean view, and approached it with restraint, thoughtfulness and even reverence. You can, of course, step outside and see the ocean. But that little window frames the view in a way that is very personal, like a gift. At Bottega Veneta, we try to add to the beauty of natural materials by treating them with restraint and creativity, and to frame them with the touch of an artisan.

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen or heard?
I always appreciate an amazing view and I love the moment of stillness and silence just before dawn.

You’re a very private person. How do you feel about designers as celebrities?
I understand the dynamic and see its value from a business perspective, but I couldn’t live in such a public way.

Does the idea of timeless luxury ever interfere with the need for the new, new, new!
No. I don’t think there’s a conflict, although you have to try harder. 

Who are the young talents you’ve discovered recently?
Bottega Veneta recently sponsored a design competition for students from the University of Tokyo’s Department of Architecture. There were three winners: Ayami Takada, Kentaro Fujimoto and Shima Suzuki. They are very talented—it was a pleasure to work with them. We brought them to Milan for the Salone del Mobile. 

How can one make power dressing relevant and modern again?
What does power look like? I think there used to be more of a consensus than there is now. Today, power dressing is about enabling the individual to feel confident and unique. There is strength in stepping away from convention and dressing for yourself.

As perfection is elusive, does it secretly bother you a little when reviews are full of praise?
No. A positive review is always a pleasure. It makes the impossibility of perfection less frustrating.

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