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.