Mastering the Pencil Skirt: Designer Ashley Ryles

Beauty & Style | 09/23/2015 | 01:34 PM EDT

This Black Woman is Making the Pencil Skirt Better

The pencil skirt: a fundamental piece to every woman’s wardrobe. It’s functional, feminine and classic. And yet, designers sometimes overlook it and it’s imperative place in our closet.

Then came along Ashley Ryles. Her phenomenal eye for creating an array of intricate pencil skirts that not only stand out, but fits well, too. Selected by Essence to create a capsule collection to be featured at their Style Block Party during last week’s Fashion Week events, Ashley Ryles is now making strategic moves to penetrate the fashion world, one midi-length pencil skirt at a time. 

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Why did you choose to focus on this particular fashion piece?

I chose the pencil skirt because it is a timeless piece that I could construct flawlessly. My first season designing the pencil skirt, I made all of the original samples myself. When it came to producing larger quantities, it was extremely manageable to oversee the process. I only had to communicate the details of one garment to the production team.

How did you come to figure that pencil skirts would be your “thing”?

I wanted to introduce my point of view on a timeless piece. The pencil skirt can be elegant, classy, sophisticated, fun, sassy and sexy. In addition to being seasonally transitional, it is a classic piece that can be worn many different ways by women of all shapes and sizes. It can be dressed up or down; it can take you from work to a dinner date or a night out on the town. The pencil skirt is a closet staple that every fashion conscious woman must have in her wardrobe.

 Is it really possible to create something unique and new in an oversaturated industry?

Yes, it is very possible! Now days, every industry is over-saturated, but I'm here for longevity. My focus is on constructing garments of high quality rather than high quantity. My goal is to design well-constructed garments with high-quality fabrics rather than focusing on what others are doing. I believe that by producing a high-quality product consistently over time will allow me to become a well-respected designer in this industry. I will master the pencil skirt, in design and fit, before producing a full fashion line. The platform and opportunity provided to create the capsule collection at the Essence Street Style Block Party definitely allowed me to showcase my skills designing pieces other than the pencil skirt.

What was the pressure like creating a capsule collection to be featured at the Essence Street Style Block Party?

I poured my entire heart and soul into this project and wanted to be personally satisfied with each piece before showing anyone else the collection. I had never created an entire collection for such a large platform before this event and I wanted to make sure that all of my formal training experience and creativity came across through my designs. Making sure the pieces were well constructed, cohesive in theme and worthy of such an opportunity was my priority. The added pressure while focusing on the capsule collection was still maintaining my everyday life, which includes a demanding nine to five job, as well as providing cosmetology services to a select number of clients. But like they say, pressure creates diamonds.


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