Koché Takes Over Planet Hollywood

A brand can only be successful if it stands the test if time; a noteworthy collection or two is easily possible with the right talent and exposure, but longevity is another matter. In order to achieve this long run, some designers are brilliant at adapting, others, at being consistent. Koché’s Christelle Kocher is part of the latter, in both how she designs and showcases her brand, some of which has been ahead of the fashion curve.


Koché's Pre-Fall 2019 show in New York. Photo: Courtesy of PR.


From casting her models off the streets in Paris and bringing further authenticity to the clothing, to setting a couture know-how meets streetwear feel to the brand from its inception – and being one of the first brands to properly stage a Pre-Fall season show in New York's historic independent bookstore, The Strand – Kocher has been quietly pioneering more than a few things.

 

That Kocher would choose an odd location such as Times Square’s Planet Hollywood to show her Pre-Fall 2019 collection seems somewhat fitting for a designer known for her bold choices. An expensive French fashion brand established by a designer who also works for Chanel’s Maison Lemarié, being showcased at such a major tourist spot, in one of the busiest areas of Manhattan, during one of the busiest hours  – it felt as ironic as it did genuine, and as absurd as it did suitable.


A themed restaurant backed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Planet Hollywood became the quintessential all-American franchise of the nineties, then endorsed by the “it” personalities of the time including Whoopi Goldberg, Cindy Crawford, and Drew Barrymore. Then, like now, Planet Hollywood tees, flimsy accessories, and bomber jackets became collectible items of the 90s, not to mention tourist accessories – following on Hard Rock Cafe’s marketing strategy decades before. Safe to assume then, given the place and many nods in the collection, that Kocher was not just paying homage to the venue’s kitschy aesthetics (including her own take on Planet Hollywood’s iconic logo), but to the cheesy culture which partly defined the 90s as an era, Hollywood as an industry, and just mainstream America.



Koché's Pre-Fall 2019 show in New York. Photos: Courtesy of PR.


Attending guests were seated at tables covered in black leather table clothes, close to other customers who were merely there to nibble on their deep-fried bites while taking selfies – some of them more confused than others by what was happening – “Is this a special Christmas thing? Maybe it’s just a prank?” Welcome by the usual decoration that defines the franchise along with holiday tunes and ornaments, all of which felt like a normal part of the restaurant, the familiarity of the context added all the more quirkiness to the situation.


Many of the looks felt somewhat similar to how the show and the venue did: in many ways authentic and interesting, by times over the top and confusing. So whereas the rugby tops, the boas, or even, for instance, a striking trench with sleeves and shoulders patch-worked from a tracksuit felt very on point, the logo baseball jerseys and some of the lingerie details did not.


The collection testified to Kocher’s skill of applying an haute couture sensibility to more streetwear aesthetic. Whether her sumptuous craft – like the astonishing use of sequins and feathers, both heyday Hollywood wardrobe classics – or more subtly by way of styling or the original use of certain patterns, the attention to careful detail and finesse was there regardless of how much fun was going on. There might have been trainers and Planet Hollywood shirts, but they were elevated with finely tailored suits and elegant plaid skirts. Other standouts included bedazzled denim bottoms, billowy romantic dresses, and various versions of casual leggings. There were stunning one offs as well, which included a colorful but discreet tattoo knit, a sequin tuxedo, and a pant suit, namely the bright happy pink velvet one Kocher walked out in for her bow. 



Koché's Pre-Fall 2019 show in New York. Photos: Courtesy of PR.

“In Paris, you have history and here you have more energy and dynamism,” said the French designer of New York a few years back. Still the case today, it was interesting – possibly even timely – to witness Kocher, the designer from a fashion culture as strong as that of France, take over a venue, a vibe, and a culture that is, as far as pop and mainstream culture goes, so quintessentially American. At the intersection of tasteful irony and genuine infatuation, somewhere between a cultural train wreck and beautiful hodgepodge of visual references, it was a rather mesmerizing show to watch.