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Tomas Maier celebrates 15 years at the head of Bottega Veneta

 

On the occasion of Bottega Veneta’s 50th anniversary and the 15 years of Tomas Maier’s artistic direction, Numéro looks back at the designer’s journey and a man who brilliantly reinvents, season after season, the timeless elegance of the famous Italian ho

Tomas Maier by Collier Schorr.

 

 

 

Here we are, fifteen years already since Tomas Maier reinvented the legendary institution that is Bottega Veneta. In 2016 this happy anniversary coincides with the 50th birthday of the Venetian fashion house. For the event Bottega Veneta sets a precedent in Milan Fashion Week by showing both the menswear and womenswear collections on the same catwalk. The son of an architect, nourished on the Bauhaus, the German artistic director conceives clothing with the rigour of a builder or an industrial designer – whether it’s destined for a man or a woman. “Numerous people have influenced me,” he confides, “From Sonia Rykiel I learnt the importance of believing in yourself and your own vision. From Jean-Louis Dumas at Hermès, the importance of knowing how to be patient.”

 

Appointed by Bottega Veneta to give the house a ready-to-wear collection that rhymed with the absolute chic of its handbags, since 2002 he has been developing a vocabulary based on elegance and the quality of materials. His is a functional luxury that fluidly contours the movements of the body. “When I joined the house, it was losing its identity and moving away from its roots. So I installed four cornerstones: an expertise in excellence, innovation, functionality and materials of an exceptional quality.

 

 

"In 1966 the founders, Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro established a workshop specialising in the weaving of leather"

 

 

 

From the moment he took office Tomas Maier nourished his vision by relying on the top notch Italian craftsmanship that is the very soul of Bottega Veneta. In 1966 the founders Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro had established a workshop specialising in the weaving of leather. The beauty of this artisanal work seduced the bohemian jet-set of the 1970s who soon fell in love with its intreciatto, which today serves as an instantly recognisable signature. When Tomas Maier took the reins in 2001 he launched the campaign, “When your own initials are enough” offering a handbag personalisation service as an alternative to the blingy logos favoured at the time. The tone of the Tomas Maier era was set. And it’s been between two poles, a love for craftsmanship and a love for art that this era has oscillated over the years as it intelligently meets the zeitgeist.

 

In order to sustain the excellence of Bottega Veneta, Tomas Maier came up with the idea of contributing to the education of future generations of artisans and opened a leather goods school financed by the brand. “We will always be loyal to the artisanal roots of the house. It’s a cultural heritage that fuses technique and creativity, that traverses the years.” With the same passion for craft, the German artistic director has led the brand into the world of homeware: veritable jewels for the home, each Bottega Veneta product is the fruit of specialised work. 

Bottega Veneta's Atelier.

 

 

 

This belief in the power of handcraftsmanship, caught permanently between tradition and innovation is what makes his vision so specific. The recent reorganisation of the workshops comes from this unique point of view: the original site in Vicenza is today devoted to the world of homeware while the ready-to-wear and accessories have been relocated to the most beautiful of settings. A true pioneer in terms of employee well-being, the Schroeder-Da-Porto Villa is a historical residence renovated to house the workshops, the archives and the Bottega Veneta leather school. A working environment second to none.

 

 

Bottega Veneta campaign by Viviane Sassen.

 

 

Tomas Maier’s other passion is art. This fervent collector of photography and contemporary art has developed a unique concept: every campaign run by the brand is used as an opportunity to work with a great artist. The immense Ralph Gibson, the pioneer of intimate exploration Nan Goldin, the South African documentary maker Pieter Hugo and so many others have over the years delivered memorable images that justly deserve to be hung on the walls of a gallery. Gathered together in the book, The Art of Collaboration, these pictures demonstrate the consistency of Tomas Maier’s vision. “Everything should have logic. For example, I only made belts on the day we doing trousers. And I started to do furniture because people wanted to buy our shop furniture.” Fifteen years of coherence under the leadership of a cultivated man of great taste… Happy Birthday!

 

By Delphine Roche

 

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