At a time when the United Nations is meeting in New York, discord between nations has rarely appeared so high. Christelle Kocher has other ideas.
Her spring collection was an ode to unity, under the guise of a celebration of women worldwide. That could be a soignée Parisienne, strutting down Avenue Montaigne in a fuchsia blazer, or a young girl in Indonesia going out with friends in a sequined top and matching headscarf, paired with pleated track pants.
“It’s an homage to diversity, a rallying call in which fashion can be a good vector of unification,” Kocher said backstage after the show, held at the French Communist Party headquarters in Paris, a saucer-shaped building designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the Sixties.
Kocher has always connected with a more nuanced vision of Paris than most people who live here experience — the result of shuttling between her job as artistic director of Maison Lemarié, part of Chanel’s stable of specialty ateliers, and her own studio in the multiethnic neighborhood of Belleville in the northeast of Paris.
This season, she broadened that vision to places she has visited, and those she dreams of discovering. A black bodysuit was embroidered with silver sequins in geometric motifs inspired by the tattoos of Berber hill tribes, while a blue-and-black lace-trimmed dress melded a cheongsam collar with striped tracksuit panels.
She splashed men’s ponchos and tops with pixellated patterns, checks and ethnic prints, taking advantage of her ongoing partnership with The Woolmark Co. to develop Japanese fabrics with flocking techniques borrowed from sportswear.
There were riffs on the soccer jersey dresses that have become a signature of the label, but Kocher also leaned more heavily into the dressy part of her repertoire, with nods to Eighties Paris couture.
“There isn’t a single straight line in this building. Oscar Niemeyer really designed it as a tribute to women, and I thought it was beautiful to come back to a certain femininity, while remaining comfortable and open-minded,” she explained. That sounds like something all women can agree on.