Bottega Veneta brought to life women from a modern-day – and perhaps also a modernist Roman palazzo – for its spring-summer 2014 ready-to-wear collection, which played with the possibilities of material, volume and proportion for what it called its “feminine modern” designs.
Imagine an update on the toga or a series of looks with an architectural edge, designs that might resemble something the artist Modigliani would have designed for the women in his off-center portraits (which also played with proportion by elongating the form).
One earthy-colored Toga-style dress was cinched tight around the waist and ended in a cascade of ruffles, revealing one leg, with a slightly Flamenco feel to it that looked sophisticated rather than dressy.
However modern the look, the color codes were inspired by the Roman palazzo of old and included dusty salmon, admiral blue, burned red and aubergine, which was found on a compact crepe dress with a cinched waist and a play with materials around the bust to create the look of feathers.
“The collection is about freshness both in terms of material and technique,” said the house’s creative director Tomas Maier in the show notes. “I was interested in letting the fabric take the lead, serving as a guide to the possibilities of what we would be able to achieve.”
One skirt looked like an abstract work of art, with materials pulled in every direction, compelling one to look twice to figure it out. (A curl of material extended outwards on one side, above a knee-length hemline, which appeared to rise north by virtue of an invisible string.)
The house created special materials for the collection, including one made of equal parts copper threads and cotton. It also used organza, compact crepe and cotton jersey plisse, among others.
Instead of prints, it re-worked materials using embroidery and swatching to create what it called ”artful textures” and “a multi-dimensional effect.”
Consider one bold, green dress with a voluminous skirt that shimmered with what looked like the green scales of an alligator.
Meanwhile, forget about boring old-school prom dresses. Bottega played with ruffles and bows and sashes like one might find at a beauty pageant, but worked them into the design in an artful, modern way. Think a shiny bow that looked as if it had been taken from the wrapping of a luxurious gift, and tied to the side of a model wearing an otherwise plain black skirt and short-sleeved t-shirt style top.
Or consider an update on the Charleston dress with deliberately incongruous, misfitting layers in black, and a flap that extended down beyond the right knee.
Playing with colors as well as materials, one beautiful dress worked as if it had three pots of paint thrown at it by some sort of coloring genius, with the colors dripping down from the orange-red shoulders to a black middle section, which dripped beneath the waist into a peachy pink. One flowing dress in blue had a shimmering silver surface that looked like a painting from Klimt.
Virtually every piece featured re-worked materials, with no corner left unturned, from elegant pleating on what might be otherwise a simple gray wrap-around styled dress, to feathers adoring trouser legs, to ruffles and crumpled, contoured materials pinned here and gathered there, hemlines embellished here and raised there to create a refreshingly modern and refined, sophisticated look.