The most buzzed-about shows at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014 were probably Burberry Prorsum and J.W. Anderson. Burberry sent the rumour mill into overdrive when they sat Harry Styles on the front row and sent out his rumoured girlfriend, Cara Delevingne, in a blush pencil skirt and see-through jacket. J.W. Anderson caused a storm for completely different reasons: his collection of artfully skewed nylon and pleated leather was hailed by the critics as his best yet.
A name that might have been heard less, but which proved itself just as exciting, was Barbara Casasola. The Brazil-born designer was showing at London Fashion Week for the first time, with a collection that embodied modern, pared-back luxury.
I love the way she used sheer panels, always balancing them with a high collar, and how even her most constructed pieces felt almost effortless. There were sheer organzas slightly reminiscent of J.W. Anderson’s, but it was all much easier to imagine someone wearing in real life. Glossy cigarette pants and a simple black waistcoat brought the androgyny, while sheer overlays were patterned with squares.
If only her pink jacket, with its sculpted sleeves and cut-out neckline, was available now. If it were more in line with my lifestyle (and budget), Barbara Casasola is what I would want to be wearing next season. As it is, she goes straight to the top of my wishlist.
It’s not the work of an ingénue, stabbing in the dark with experimental design. Barbara launched her own collection in 2012 after five years of working for labels like Roberto Cavalli, See By Chloe and Lanvin. Her educational background is just as impressive; after studying fashion design at Central Saint Martins she graduated cum laude and first in her class from Istituto Marangoni in Milan. She started off showing her line in Paris Fashion Week, but for Spring/Summer 2014 she made a quietly confident addition to the official schedule in London.
You can certainly see the influence of her time spent on assignments for Lanvin; her occasion wear is luxurious, but never try-hard, girlie or overly embellished. Her fringed white and silver gown from the A/W 13 collection was the perfect choice for Alicia Vikander (who played Kitty opposite Keira Knightley’s Anna Karenina) at the Toronto Film Festival a few weeks ago. It reappeared on Erin O’Connor at Vogue’s Fashion Week Dinner the same day as Casasola’s S/S show.
If all that isn’t enough to convince you that this is a label worth watching, look to the show’s front row. Natalie Massenet, who founded Net-a-Porter and currently chairs the British Fashion Council, was leading the way.