Excerpt from ELLE Magazine
Four decades after Bottega Veneta opened its first international outpost on Madison Avenue (attracting such boldface names as Andy Warhol and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), creative director Tomas Maier stages a triumphant return with a highly anticipated show at New York Fashion Week and a molto-chic megaboutique—the brand’s largest in the world.
“I’ve always been a New York addict, in a way,” Tomas Maier says by phone from his Manhattan office. “In New York, you are literally in architecture. Right now I’m looking at the IBM building by Edward Larrabee Barnes—how it reflects the clouds. It’s fascinating.” The German-born designer owes much of his success to his exacting eye for detail. (He famously dropped the h in his first name to achieve better symmetry.) As creative director of Bottega Veneta—the Italian label known for its high-end intrecciato leather goods—he painstakingly oversees everything from the brand’s signature Cabat totes, handwoven by two artisans over a 40-hour period, to a line of subtly luxe furniture and home accessories. His latest endeavor: merging three landmarked nineteenth-century townhomes on New York’s Upper East Side that will showcase the complete range of Bottega Veneta products.
The 15,000-square-foot, five-floor space at 740 Madison Avenue took nearly five years to complete. Maier, who first visited New York in 1979, maintains a pied-à-terre not far from the new Maison, as it’s being billed (his primary residence is in Palm Beach). “Because they were landmarked, all three townhouses had to be taken down from the inside. We kept the exterior facades, which meant we had to maintain the window openings as they were. That was tricky. For retail, you need daylight. Most stores have glass fronts.” He says the team found new ways to flood the space with natural light. Intensifying its brightness will be steel walls and shimmering silver chain curtains. Maier is particularly proud of the fourth floor. “I refer to it as ‘the apartment.’ It’s furnished as if it were a private home, all in Bottega furniture. I was inspired by the boats surrounding Manhattan, so you have those grays and creams—a palette I’ve never used before.”