Christelle Kocher has taken Paris by storm. Literally. It was quite the whirlwind at her Spring 2017 fashion show at the recently reconstructed Forum des Halles shopping centre and metro station, as the sun set over Paris. The guests were seated on steps and they watched on as the models pounded the thoroughfare. It was amusing to see disconcerted, disgruntled commuters wander on to the catwalk or bemusedly witness a fashion show en plein air. It should be noted that Forum des Halles isn’t a quiet shopping centre or metro station. In fact, it’s the second busiest shopping centre in France. With upwards of 150,000 visitors daily—at rush hour, when the show was held, one can only imagine how many pass through.
The venue choice pointed at something Kocher dabbled with in her last Koché show—connectivity, bringing fashion to the street. Tracksuit pants and trainers, unbuttoned polo-shirts given the high fashion treatment; lace slips over wool trousers; swishy summer dresses. Don’t be fooled, while the models could’ve blended in nicely with the Parisians on their evening commute, charging through the complex, this wasn’t about functional, banal separates, Kocher added some sparkle and pizzazz. After all, she is the artistic director of Maison Lemarié. Maison Lemarié are responsible for the feathers, flowers, pleatwork, smocking and ruffles for the Chanel couture and Metiers d’Art collections. On offer here was a lace bolero over a Bill Cunningham blue, French workman’s jacket; a white tunic with painstaking embroideries; a multicoloured feather coat.
The models were city slickers, partygoers, dispatches from les banlieues. Kocher referenced hip-hop culture in France, its swagger pulsating from some of the looks. The models, including Karly Loyce, stomped with exaggerated swagger, gold chains dangling from their necks. With ease, they could’ve stepped out of an early 00s music video.
Every look intrinsic to everyone’s wardrobe, from Paris to the Philippines, were featured in the collection and each of them was remixed—creativity assassinated banality here; a plea that I have been making for months.
The gumption and chutzpah it takes to throw a fashion show during rush hour in the place which is the second busiest shopping centre and Paris’ most-used rail station is unimaginable. Christelle Kocher fuses the street and couture elements in ways that aren’t tacky or overly-reliant on chav culture; it’s more rooted in reality than that. She’s ahead of her contemporaries in mixing sportswear and heightened luxury—it’s more literal, but it proves for a far more effective result.