By pure serendipity, it was a misty morning—the first sign of autumn—when the women of fashion gathered to see what Tomas Maier would be up to at Bottega Veneta. At their first opportunity to parade their fall wardrobes, a remarkable number were milling around wearing plain, oversize sweaters over fluid, decorative skirts of many varieties and colors. Coincidentally (or not), it was that very look—a plain knit over a flared thirties midi—that caused a unanimous chorus of approval at Bottega’s last show. There’s no big intellectual deal about placing those coordinates together, obviously: Maier would hardly claim to have invented it—it’s just a way of dressing that has entered women’s daily vocabulary. But here’s the point: What he did was see it, improve it, endorse it, and offer it back. Maier is a designer as social observer. He holds up a mirror in which his customers recognize themselves, only looking all the calmer, better, and richer for being framed by him.