If you pay close enough attention to Natalie Merchant’s “Break Your Heart” video, you’ll spot Annie Lewis — one half of the Lewis Cho design duo — in the background. Just look for the swing-dancing dame who knocks over the chanteuse. “That was my big moment,” Lewis said, of her few moments of fame.
The accolades she and Helen Cho receive for their Lewis Cho brand, however, are sure to last much longer. Now in its second season, the fall lineup is anchored in jersey — the pair’s favorite fabric. The 31-piece collection features a cream, salmon and brown color palette, with lines that are noticeably cleaner and a direction that is tighter than that of the spring collection.
Garments drape beautifully over the body, thanks to the tight ruche detailing that tumbles on a dress and falls to loose ripples on a blouse. And while the designers are inspired by geometrics, they cater to them only in the slightest degree. Delicate knits feature a simple, zigzag pattern, for example, while subtle, primary shapes are evident in necklines, waists and even the hem of a pant. “It’s really structured and organic at the same time,” Cho said. Currently, the line, which wholesales from $45 to $250, is sold in about 20 boutiques, including Vice in New York, Therapy in Austin and Rolo in San Francisco.
The Lewis Cho collection is mature for a sophomore effort, but these ladies have been designing various pieces together on and off since they met 12 years ago while working at Anna Sui. They both left the company after only one year, but they still had time to learn that success is equal parts patience and hard work. “Look at Anna,” Lewis said. “She did her line for years before she even had any gains like she has now. We know how hard it’s going to be.”
Before settling on their current look, Lewis and Cho experimented with a number of styles over the years, with influences that ranged from “Dynasty” to “Wonder Woman.” Even the duo’s label underwent several transformations before the women settled on each of their surnames. While the end result is masculine, it’s a confusion the designers are delighted with. “It’s kind of nice to hide behind this male figurehead,” Lewis said. “When [telemarketers] call asking for Lewis, we can tell them he’s simply not here.”