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“I don’t feel in tune with the Parisian cliché.” Meet Christelle Kocher, founder of Koché and finalist for the LVMH prize

 

LVMH prize finalist for her label Koché, French designer Christelle Kocher combines haute couture expertise with streetwear in her own very generational and exciting fashion. An encounter.

Numéro: Tell us about your background in fashion?

 

Christelle Kocher: I studied at Central Saint Martins and then worked at Giorgio Armani in Milan and with Martine Sitbon until her brand closed. Then I was in charge of delicate fabrics at Chloé. After that I joined the team at Dries Van Noten in Antwerp. Virginie Viard [studio director at Chanel] asked me to resurrect the feather workers Lemarié [one of the Chanel Maisons d’Art, prestigious French artisan craftsmen]. So I accepted the position of artistic director there, and that contact with couture heritage and French tradition proved very decisive. At the same time I started working with Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta, where the artisanal expertise is just as important. I learnt so much and above all became absolutely passionate about the skills of the artisans. In 2014 I stopped collaborating with Bottega Veneta to launch my own brand, all while continuing my work at Lemarié.

How would you define the DNA of Koché, your label that aligns the heritage of couture with streetwear?

 

I began with that very notion of marrying artisanal know-how with a more casual style, something more contemporary, fresher. The most exclusive pieces, like my feathered coats lined with jersey are made by the Lemarié, Lesage and Goossens ateliers, but it's important for me to also offer more accessible clothes. The starting point is to do something very personal, that suits me. I grew up in a Parisian suburb doing sport and I wore a lot of tracksuits. Then I discovered luxury and was blown away by the beauty of it. But I travel a lot and my lifestyle is very urban, so I need comfortable clothes. I buy a lot of things at Nike and wear them with jackets from Chanel or Bottega Veneta… 

Your style has nothing typically Parisian about it. Do you find the image of the Rive Gauche girl in jeans, stilettos and trench coat a bit dated? 

 

It's true that's not really my thing. I don't feel in tune with that Parisian cliché because today with social networks and the internet, you get to see fashion from around the world and you can buy whatever you like from online stores. I've lived in Italy, in Antwerp, in London, I've spent a lot of time in New York when I was working for Bottega Veneta, and my perspective has long since gone beyond any Franco-French boundaries. As for my vision of Paris, I express it through the shows I present in places that embody the coming together of several social groups: the Halles shopping centre, the Prado. They're events open to passers-by, I like the idea of them being democratic, electric and fun. 

You're one of the finalists for the LVMH prize, what will you do if you win?

 

This prize would allow me to open an online boutique, develop the unisex side to my brand (knits, t-shirts, etc) and to start jewellery and accessories. But even just getting the chance to show my work to Karl Lagerfeld and Phoebe Phil is a prize in itself. 

 

www.koche.fr

 

Interview by Delphine Roche

 

Check out more interviews of the LVMH prize finalists:

Glenn Martens’ interview.

Brandon Maxwell’s interview.

 

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