Fashion

Parisian Label Koché Takes Over New York's Iconic Strand Bookstore

The literary landmark becomes a fashion runway for the first time ever. Plus, backstage photos from Julia Khoroshilov.
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Yesterday, on the third floor of the rare books section of the iconic Strand bookstore, models marched through the aisles and shelves while the press sat captivated. Regular customers, who were browsing the books on the second floor, served as an accidental audience to the backstage and runway path. It may have been a spectacle to the uninitiated, but at the end of the day, it was just another one of Koché’s fashion shows.

 

“I think it’s an eclectic collection and I wanted to also to feel a connection and to feel an energy,” said Christelle Kocher, the designer behind the line right after the show. “But, also, my brand is not only about Paris and history, it’s a lot of spontaneous energy with the way that I mix sportswear.” The Parisian brand is known for having its shows all around the world in unconventional spaces — from the streets of Harajuku in Tokyo to the Folies Bergère in Paris. For New York, the Strand is just as symbolic in its own way. “It all makes sense,” adds Kocher.

The models were a mix of Instagram stars, rappers and cool girls with mermaid-hued hair that perfectly suited a collection heavy on Statue of Liberty prints, sweaters and sporty reworked jerseys. “It’s important because it’s about passing along a message that communications value in what I believe, in what I design, and to be in a bookstore—it’s an important symbol of culture,” she said, without stopping to take a breath. It was also the first time a fashion show had ever taken place inside Strand.

 

Given the fact that couture history is in the designer’s blood, it was the ultimate clash of New York meets Paris, in the best possible way. Kocher has worked for some of the top French ateliers including Lesage, Montex, and Lemarié — of which she employed to do handiwork throughout her collection.

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When asked if she identifies more with Paris or New York, where she now has more fans than ever before, she stops to think: “I don’t feel any of the cities, I feel like my brand speaks to a generation, which is a bit like people.. with social networks you don’t feel, oh it’s Paris, oh it’s New York. I take and I pick things around the world but New York is a special place for inspiration.”

The contrast of an ankle-length feather-trimmed Bordeaux-colored leather jacket with “Paris” nameplate necklaces and leopard printed leggings was all New York though—as was the way she approached the collection from a gender standpoint. This was the first time the line included menswear in one of its collections, but many of the pieces could be worn by either male or female.

The collection was full of collaborations that spanned far beyond couture too—one with Woolmark, which forced the designer to experiment with embellished knits and sweaters, and another with the soccer club Paris Saint-Germain (a continuation from last season)—its logo and colors could be seen throughout, in the form of tracksuits and shirts. Of all the pieces, 21 merino wool looks were produced in partnership with Woolmark, ranging from a casual leopard print menswear suit to a jacket embellished with crystals. 

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