But just as easily as he shuttles from Palm Beach to New York to Milan, he can switch from acting high-handed (“Actually, I am a bit difficult, because I like people who have integrity”) to speaking like a Valley Girl (“I think it’s sooo gross when a guy goes on the treadmill and then jumps into the pool”) to sympathizing with men about their image (“I like a structured jacket. It helps you control your weight issuesif you go to button it and it doesn’t fit, you know to lay off the dessert”).
“People might think of him as Mr. Perfect, that everything is too impeccable,” says Tiina Laakkonen, a stylist who has collaborated with Maier for the past three seasons, “but he’s a very cool person. He has this very calm confidence about what he does.”
Outside Bottega Veneta’s Milan offices, the courtyard is swelling with editors and a handful of select buyers, contentedly sipping cappuccinos. After a quick check of the crowd, Maier walks back to the board to discuss the importance of the jacket with an editor. Within a few minutes, Bottega’s spring show will start and Maier will once again be met by a chorus of critical praise. Yet even before the first model hits the catwalk, Maier knows what his next collection will contain. “It’s impossible,” he says with a hearty laugh. "The jacket, I will carry it on forever.”