DALLAS — For comedian Margaret Cho, finding clothes that fit has been no laughing matter.
“I adore clothes, but when I go shopping nothing fits me,” Cho said in an interview. “So many of the styles that I like are positively unwearable unless you have the strongest double-stick tape, a stylist to follow you wherever you go and no laws of gravity. The clothes seem to have been designed only for women with perfect, sample-size bodies.”
Now, she’s taking matters into her own hands.
In August, Cho and her longtime friend and business partner Ava Stander launched a moderate sportswear collection called High Class Cho that’s available only on the Internet at highclasscho.com. They have tentative plans to roll out High Class Cho to specialty stores after gauging response on the Web and fine-tuning the collection. Cho and Stander declined to give sales estimates.
The 25-piece line is inspired by retro-glamorous styles with plenty of sizzle. They are designed to fit and celebrate women’s bodies, regardless of age, especially those who don’t have model-perfect figures.
Cho, in the middle of a 46-city tour of her one-woman show called Revolution, has made no secret of her battles with weight and trying to conform to pressure to be thinner. In 1994, Cho was asked to lose weight before starring in the TV series “All-American Girl.” She lost the weight, but suffered kidney failure.
“High Class Cho is a celebration of real women, curves and all,” said Stander, who co-designs the collection with Cho. “The styles and the sizing reference a time when fashion and clothing loved women and celebrated their unique sizes, especially the glamorous and sexy fashions of the Forties.”
The collection combines sensuality and stretch to provide a body-conscious yet forgiving fit. Styles include pants and skirts, slinky dresses and sexy chiffon blouses. Sizes are 10 to 18, and the fit is inspired by three Hollywood icons: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Anita Ekberg.
“Women are often different sizes on the top and bottom, so they can take items from our collection and mix and match to fit their unique shape,” Sander said. “Our Audrey shapes are smaller, more fitted and defined. With Marilyn, the hips say it all. Anita is about generous curves.”High Class Cho bestsellers include a classic stretch-cotton dress with kick pleats and three-quarter sleeves, and a stretch satin dress, each at $150; a polkadot chiffon blouse at $95; a reversible skirt at $85, and a pencil skirt at $75. Colors range from black and white to vibrant pink and red.
“Our styles are designed to go from day to night and can be dressed up or down,” explained Cho, who wears High Class Cho designs onstage during her show. “We’re already selling to such a wide range of women, from teenage Latina girls who buy our clothes to replicate the silhouettes of the rockabilly style to women over age 60 who are buying just about anything on the site.”
Cho and Sander are both big fans of Internet shopping, praising the convenience and privacy aspects of surfing the Web for fashion.
“For High Class Cho, we spend a lot of time researching old patterns that we’ve purchased on eBay,” Cho said. “I also adore looking at Victorian styles, which were really sexy in their own way and were certainly cut for women with fuller figures.”
Buying vintage Victorian styles is another matter, though, admitted Cho.
“Have you ever smelled a 100-year-old dress? It’s not pretty — we’re talking major odor. You can’t wash it out, scrub it out or Shout it out. It’s there to stay, honey.”
Besides her new apparel line, Cho is finalizing plans for two movies, including a video of her Revolution show and an original screenplay about the lives of a struggling fashion designer and his best friend.
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