Barbara Casasola

March 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Barbara Casasola returned to form this season. That was both literally and figuratively true: While her previous collection found the designer experimenting with silhouettes and proportions, this time out she reemphasized her signature shape, a column dress hemmed just above the ankle. But if this was a retread, it wasn’t a retreat.

Casasola coaxed a lot of variety of out her column dresses, cutting some of them square and tailoring others, and making suggestive use of color-blocking and sheer organza. Her best innovation here, however, was her Mme. Grès pleats, which were done in silk and seamed into the bodice to create a bustier shape. The standout dress expanded the pleating theme, merging silver pleats into matching satin fringe; it was as if the pleats had come alive somehow, and taken flight. That dress was faced in black cady in back, as were a number of the pleated looks; as she explained, the contrast facing served both a graphic purpose and a practical one, as the matte cady was more flattering than the pleats from the back. That concession to flattery affirmed the impression that Casasola was really thinking, this season, about the women who would be wearing her clothes; when her shapes were monastic, she introduced a sexy element to the look, though never an overbearing one, and when the shapes were lean, she found ways to add fluidity, and make them wearable. Overall, there were lots of advances here, as Casasola continued to refine her distinctive voice.
—Maya Singer
Runway Feed

Barbara Casasola

October 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Barbara Casasola is impatient. Not in a bad way—Casasola isn’t one of those young designers who treats success like a bus that’s a few minutes late, aggrieved that it hasn’t arrived yet. Her impatience is of a more earnest kind: She’s impatient to be great. Her headlong desire to stretch herself and realize her full potential will likely benefit her in the long run. But this season, it got in her way.

Casasola caught the eye of more than a few industry VIPs with a collection for Fall ’12 that was disarmingly well crafted and distinctive. The vision she expressed was narrow, but it was complete. And so it was only natural that she should try to expand her horizons this season, in particular by varying her column silhouette. Unfortunately, in this collection, she never settled on a satisfying way of developing her shapes and instead seemed to be testing out sundry lengths and proportions. A few of her experiments worked really well—Casasola was definitely on to something with her fluid volumes, and she easily could have devoted herself to exploring how to develop her architectural use of color in softer, more dimensional ways. One fantastic look suggested the missed opportunity: a fitted crop top and matching long, full skirt done in a surprising combination of off-white, magenta, and mustard. Other looks elaborated the possibilities, such as a pair of coral gauchos worn with a coordinating color-blocked top, a lean black and nude dress with georgette inserts hidden in the pleats, and a halter-neck dress in coral and orange. Elsewhere, she focused just on fluidity and volume and arrived at standout looks such as her fuchsia gown with a braided collar.

The weaker passages, meanwhile, suggested that Casasola has retailers’ voices playing a little too loudly in her head. Some looks, such as a double-breasted dress in off-white and mustard, seemed to be premised on retailer feedback that similar items from Casasola’s last collection would be more saleable if they were shorter and looser. That may be true, but it’s vital that Casasola stick to her guns and find her own ways of making commercial pieces. She accomplished that here, but not consistently. Casasola will learn from her mistakes, but here’s hoping she learns from this collection’s many successes, too.
—Maya Singer
Runway Feed