With the Parisian fashion sphere in an undeniable moment of flux, Glamcult couldn’t wait to meet one of the young designers spearheading change. Together with photographer Ari Versluis, we travelled to Paris to meet Christelle Kocher, the young woman in charge of—the almost eponymous—fashion label Koché. Founded in 2015, Kocher, a former designer at Armani, Chloé and Sonia Rykiel, has presented five collections to date. And no matter how formulaic this sounds in a market where democratization has become a selling point, “diversity” is written all over her work. From the largely street and subculture-inspired clothes to the mix of club kids, top models and street-scouted faces storming its (public!) runway, Koché is a plea to the multiplicity of Paris—and to French fashion in general.
“It may seem like I’m standing up against the French elite,” the designer ponders aloud. “But really, I’m just doing what speaks to me and my friends; creating something that’s generous.” By Kocher’s side stands her friend Delphine Rafferty, DJ and supporter since the dawn of the label. “My boyfriend and I were walking down the street to scout models, and he spotted Delphine first. He said: ‘Christelle, I’ve fallen in love.’ It was very funny. She came to the casting, and Delphine and I found out we have a lot of things in common. At the end of the day, she had become a good friend.” Now unofficially part of “the group”, Delphine can’t quite be considered a model or “muse”—a term that Kocher doesn’t much like. “It suggests putting someone on a pedestal. I don’t like to work that way, or only work with one person. I just really appreciate her creative mind, the ways she thinks…”
In the Koché universe, clothes are created for more than one persona. “It’s not one vision that I want to impose on people. That’s why we adjust the styling, hair and make-up for every girl that walks my show; I want to keep their own personality and background, whether someone is Japanese, Arabic, Indian, one-meter-eighty or one-meter-fifty.” What summarizes this vision better than anything is the finale of the latest Koché presentation; the formation of a giant tableau of people. “It symbolizes Paris—the diversity, creativity and the people who inspire me. Of course, yes, I do include top models—because I love that part of fashion too! But that’s not where it stops. I want to address people beyond fashion and catch their energy.”
What Kocher looks for in people is a sense of boldness. “A lot of my clothes are quite creative and colourful, I think you do need a bit of character for them.” Although her given name and label are not one and the same, her traveller’s instinct and 14 years of experience in the fashion industry—moving between Milan, London and New York—do strongly influence the brand. Just as growing up in the ’90s, and having danced for days in a row still channels into the collections. No surprise, then, that Kocher and a DJ wearing Koché are a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, these days the designer doesn’t have much time left to dance. “I wish I could!” she sighs. “I’m not doing it nearly as much as I’d like to. But my brand is very young and I don’t have investors, so I have to do a lot myself.” She concludes, on a brighter note: “I do think going out gets better when you don’t go as often; the less you go, the more you appreciate it.”