For her debut last season, Ashleigh Verrier, a Parsons grad and one-time Proenza Schouler intern, showed a breezy yet sophisticated 12-piece collection that referenced early American sportswear. Fall also found her looking back in time, in particular to fashion's favorite surrealist, Elsa Schiaparelli, whom she admires because "she wasn't afraid to experiment." You can't blame a young designer like Verrier for wanting to do the same, though the result was a presentation that wasn't as tightly focused as her first outing.
There were some charming silky dresses and blouses delicately embroidered with a bow motif, a nod to the trompe l'oeil bow sweater that was Schiaparelli's first claim to fame. Verrier also nailed thirties glamour, another of her stated influences, with a smoking ensemble and a dramatic long black silk gown with Swarovski crystals. At other times, though, she went too far (or perhaps not far enough). Cape jackets and pencil skirts that extended to the rib cage heavily cited vintage pieces, but without the crucial adjustments that would have rendered them modern.
Sophomore shows are notorious stumbling blocks for designers, and the issue here seemed to be an overabundance of inspirations. In addition to Schiap and the thirties, Verrier bandied about the twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned, sailor blouses, even eighties-era Versace. It's no wonder that the collection occasionally looked confused. Still, Verrier's ingenuity was evident in dresses that looked like two-piece tops and skirts, and her attention to detail, as seen in the fine beading on collars, the rope embroidery on a jacket, and the floral velvet trim edging a coat, showed sensitivity and skill.