Bottega Veneta's pedigree in fine leathergoods makes it a world-leader in its field. Founded in Vicenza, Italy, in 1966, the house quickly became the choice of the Studio 54 crowd; Andy Warhol bought his Christmas presents at the New York store. At that time, Bottega was a family company designed and run by husband and wife team Vittorio and Laura Moltedo, and it was famed for its hand-made, super-soft bags created from signature 'intrecciato' woven leather.
Following this heyday Bottega looked like being consigned to fashion history until the intervention of two forces: one, the Gucci Group, which in 2001 spent $60m on acquiring two thirds of the company, giving it the financial clout to undergo an extensive re-launch. The other was the appointment of Tomas Maier as creative director; previously in the company's recent history, British designer Giles Deacon had been head designer. Maier's revamp has included BV's Milan headquarters, its stationery, staff and uniforms. Collections, too, have returned to a more sophisticated aesthetic and have been extended to cover lap-top cases, shoes in exotic leathers, cashmere knits and homeware ranges. The focus, Maier has stated, is to remain on accessories and niche products.
Miami-based, German-born (1958) Maier trained at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris and has a long history as a luxury goods designer - including nine years as designer of womenswear for Hermes and, in 1998, the launch of his own collection - and is now being tipped as a man to watch.