PARIS – After Paris and Tokyo, Christelle Kocher is ready to bring her rule-breaking approach to catwalk shows to New York.
The French designer will hit the Big Apple on Dec. 12 to showcase her pre-fall collection for her ready-to-wear brand Koché, alongside a capsule men’s wear collection marking the start of a new two-season partnership with The Woolmark Co.
The display, to be held at the Strand Bookstore on Broadway, will also feature the next chapter in her ongoing collaboration with Paris soccer club Paris Saint-Germain — with perhaps a celebrity footballer or two in attendance, league schedules permitting.
Known for blending streetwear influences with the kind of upscale techniques usually reserved for couture, Kocher has staged guerrilla-style shows in locations including a crowded underground station and a historic covered shopping arcade in Paris, as part of her ethos of sharing fashion with the masses.
With its slogan “18 Miles Of Books,” the Strand is one of New York’s oldest and largest independent bookstores, featured in movies including “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Julie & Julia” and “Remember Me.”
“This is the first time we are doing a show for a pre-collection,” said Kocher, adding that she has a “special relationship” with New York, where she worked part-time during her stint at Bottega Veneta under Tomas Maier.
“I still find it fascinating — its history, its architecture, its cosmopolitanism, its dynamism, its relationship to work and creation,” said Kocher. “Therefore it feels quite natural to me, this kind of bridge between two cities.”
Kocher has twice made the list of semifinalists of the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers. In her parallel role as artistic director of feather maker Maison Lemarié, one of 12 specialty ateliers owned by Chanel, she is able to tap into some of France’s most traditional crafts.
The designer has worked with The Wool Lab on new ways to use the material by blending sportswear looks with “exceptional craftsmanship” in line with her aesthetic, using Merino wool looks and techniques. “This season, we used wool that we embroidered or printed, in addition to slightly more technical wools that we used in our PSG capsule,” she explained.
The football club has been expanding into the lifestyle segment since it fell under Qatari ownership in 2011. Koché’s spring 2018 show included soccer jerseys bedazzled with Swarovski crystals or spliced with T-shirts, triggering a sharp uplift in sales.
“The Paris Saint-Germain capsule has been a real success, both editorially and commercially,” said Kocher, noting that the collaboration helped the brand add around 20 points of sale this season, bringing the total to 70 worldwide. “We are seeing good momentum and a very strong increase in revenues.”
Koché first branched out overseas last year with a show during Tokyo Fashion Week held on a street in the popular Harajuku district, with models including a DJ, a photographer and a designer. The New York event will also be open to the public, and will feature a mix of local personalities and the brand’s historic models.
“For us, it’s interesting to explore a new facet each season, with fresh points of view and messages every time,” said Kocher, promising “a very Koché event.”
The designer is also planning a show for her next resort line, though she won’t show her pre-collections on the catwalk every season. “We like to be free and to have them when it makes sense, and not out of principle,” she explained.