The dynamic duo
Special birthdays for Bottega Veneta and Tomas Maier
In 1966, Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro began making handcrafted, leather handbags in a small workshop in Vicenza in the Veneto region of northern Italy. This year, the company Bottega Veneta is celebrating its 50th anniversary and creative director Tomas Maier his 15th, as K reports.
Shortly after establishing their house, signori Taddei and Zengiaro quickly developed intrecciato leather weaving craftsmanship, in the early 1970s. Few could have imagined then that Bottega Veneta’s emblematic method would today be recognised around the world as the apogee of Italian savoir faire.
This year also marks the 15th anniversary of Tomas Maier’s reign as creative director. His vision has been the driving force for the exceptional development of the maison over the last decade and a half. It was Maier who ensured that Bottega Veneta return to its no-logo heritage.
The company motto, When your own initials are enough, demonstrates an approach of individuality and confidence which has been extended to a range of items, from women’s and men’s ready-to-wear to fine jewellery, from eyewear and fragrances to home ware.
Whilst some think of luxury in terms of rarity or prices, Maier is guided by four ‘cornerstones’: outstanding craftsmanship; timeless yet innovative design; contemporary functionality; and the highest quality materials.
Tying the knot
Apart from Maier’s artistic appointment, Bottega Veneta’s half century has been marked by a few mileposts, including the creation, in the 1980s, of the rounded box clutch; Maier later introduced a closure in the shape of a small intrecciato leather Knot, hence its name. The renowned Cabat bag, the first to be designed by Maier, came in 2001 (for the spring-summer 2002 collection) when he joined the house. And the first in the series of Art of Collaboration was launched with photographer Robin Broadbent for the fall-winter 2004 campaign.
Other such artistic partnerships have involved illustrious names: Lord Snowdon, Annie Liebovitz, Nick Knight, Steven Meisel and Sam Taylor Wood, among several others. In 2006, the house opened a school, la Scuola dei Maestri Pellettieri, to train future generations of artisan leather workers. It’s hosted in the Bottega Veneta atelier in Montebello Vicentino.
The brand has been marking its 50th anniversary with a number of events this year, starting with a Behind the intrecciato travelling installation that celebrates its heritage, craftsmanship and creativity. Having visited Dubai and Shanghai, it’s now on show in Hong Kong. A new fragrance, Pour Homme Essence Aromatique, was launched in March, followed by Parco Palladiano, a collection of unisex scents.
Then in September during Milan Fashion Week, the anniversaries show took place in the 18th century Accademia di Belli Arti di Brera. The event also marked the house’s support of an educational programme during the current academic year by providing scholarships, to encourage the creativity of NextGen artists.
Bottega Veneta and Tomas Maier seem to have been made for each other. Both embody creativity and intelligence, and Maier knows how to express the brand’s distinctive vision based on an uncompromising, rigorous style. He has managed to make the most sophisticated craftsmanship look simple, and he knows excellence cannot be appreciated from afar.