With designs beloved by brides for a decade, Project Runway alum Veronica Sheaffer is making her foray into the world of ready-to-wear. We caught up with the busy designer for all the details on her dreamy new street-ready collection, including the signature blouse that launched a craze. Consider this your go-to for romantic Valentine's Day dinner or party duds. $45-$865, veronicasheaffer.com
How did you get your start in fashion? Right after high school I moved to New York to be an actor. I came to Chicago to focus on theater acting and did that for many years, but I had always sewn. Fashion design was probably my earliest passion as a kid. I think that’s how I became an actor, actually, because I was so entranced by all the beautiful clothes in old movies. I had always made my own clothes, and a friend asked if I wanted to do a women’s line with her, which seemed insane because I had no understanding of production. But she talked me into it. … And then a friend of mine was getting married and asked me to make her wedding dress... and it took off on its own. More people approached me and then within a year I was doing that almost exclusively.
Why did you decide to transition to ready-to-wear?
I had been doing bridal for so long and it’s disappointing to only work with somebody once. I developed such strong relationships with these women and I wanted to still work with them and make beautiful things for them. I went through a personal metamorphosis and got rid of all of my clothes and swore to sew everything all the way down to my underwear for myself. … I would document that and post it on social media and I would get so many messages; people wanted those same pieces for themselves. I really wanted to do more wearable everyday pieces and it just kind of happened organically all at once.
How is your bridal customer different from your ready-to-wear customer? I think they are the same woman. They want something elevated and special and beautiful, but still something really wearable. It’s still about her, and the clothes are never overwhelming to my ready-to-wear clients or my brides.
What is the vibe of the collection? The fabrics need to feel really beautiful and special. We have a couple of pieces in this collection in a silk Lurex, and it’s so decadent and so beautiful but it’s in keeping with my general vibe, which is very feminine and soft and cool. I use a lot of soft colors; I use a lot of white; I use a lot of sheer materials. … I think it’s because I’m so inspired by historical fashion. I am really drawn to the escapism of clothing, and to me I just always go back to those sheer whites.
Your pieces truly flatter many body types. That was very intentional. Doing custom bridal for so long, I’ve worked with so many different body types, and so over time I’ve developed an understanding of, and also an appreciation for, different bodies and what looks beautiful on different people. I wanted to make sure that the Poet blouse, for instance, looks as good on a size 2 as on a size 20. … It’s really important to me that everybody feels beautiful.
Tell us about the ever-popular Poet blouse. I actually made it a couple of years ago and it was a staple in my own wardrobe. … It became this thing on my social media; everybody would always talk about the Poet blouse because I was always hyping it up so much.
What’s next? The focus is very much on ready-to-wear. I still personally am happy to work with custom brides, but I’m definitely putting a lot of energy into building out the ready-to-wear and expanding that.
Photography by: Poet Blouse photo by Meagan Shuptar