Pre-pandemic, fashion marched on as it always had. There were new collections, mainly by legacy brands, shown at inviting venues in New York, London, Paris, and Milan, to a select group of celebrities, editors, buyers, and lately, influencers. Then the world dissolved as COVID-19 raged, and with it, not only the way fashion was produced and purchased, but also how it was shown. Everything went digital — the beginning of a new era, perhaps — as the fashion industry struggled on how to best reach a new world of global consumers trapped, if not indoors, in the confines of their own country.
Today, however, as the world emerges post-lockdown, the fashion industry, now changed in so many ways, is again gearing up for another season of fashion weeks. New York Fashion Week leads the way, bringing back in-person runway shows, as well as a host of digital presentations and other exclusive experiences.
CHOCHENG, a luxury womenswear designer label launched in 2010 by designer Cho Cho Cheng, will be there, showing its Spring-Summer 2022 collection via a digital presentation filmed in Chinatown in NY, on September 9. CHOCHENG is best known for its rich color palette and exquisite, hand-sewn tailoring, a technique Cheng picked up from his time on Savile Row. He’s also known for being the first Asian designer to open a flagship store on NYC’s famed Fifth Avenue.
Here, Jing Daily asks Cho Cho Cheng five quick questions before his show hits the runway — digitally, of course.
Jing Daily: How has the switch from in-person to digital been for you?
Cho Cho Cheng: “I have been producing digital fashion films since the very beginning of my career, so I feel as if I am going back to my roots by switching to the digital show format. I like the metamorphosis aspect of fashion, and it works better with digital fashion shows. I truly enjoy the whole movie-making process. I give each collection a scripted story, and I am involved with directing, filming, and editing. The filming becomes part of the creative process, and the models truly enjoy acting their parts as well.”
What was your inspiration?
“For SS22, I was approached by friends about using an old Chinatown theatre that had remained closed since the beginning of the pandemic. It has vintage vanity tables backstage, which reminded me of the great Mei Lanfang [a famous Chinese opera singer] visiting New York in 1930 to perform the Peking Opera on Broadway. That inspired me to create a collection based on his famous opera, “The Drunken Concubine.” The collection is filled with color, inspired by Peking Opera, Pop Art, old Broadway, and cocktails.”
What are you hoping to impart?
“I believe providing an accessible and entertaining digital fashion show can cheer people up a bit. Some of the garments will be available online at the same time the show launches, so it will be a great convenience to my loyal customers who have been supporting me from the beginning. Some of them actually called and requested we reopen the 5th Avenue store when the city was still in lockdown. It shows shopping really has some healing properties. Whether they are shopping out of necessity or vanity, I am glad I am contributing to their little moments of happiness.”
Why go digital?
“I design and manufacture in the UK and Italy, my brand and flagship shop are based in New York, and I have been participating in New York Fashion Week ever since I started. I simply cannot stop traveling at this point in my career. It has been a huge challenge, but it is manageable with the help of new technologies and inventions. My tight schedule has made it impossible to stay in New York for fashion week to meet the press and customers, but it is not a good idea to have big gatherings at this time anyway. I have also decided to suspend my plan to open a store in Paris, which I hope will happen in the near future.”
What is CHOCHENG’s signature?
“I am one of the very few designers who has created a signature tailoring cut. We call it the house style in Savile Row terms. It is rather old-fashioned to care about a house style nowadays. It took me years to create one, and it increases production costs. No manufacturer wants to work with my one-of-a-kind patterns, so I have to do all my tailoring in-house, but I can manage it as a vertically integrated operation. I feel it is important because having a house style has made me more independent and durable as a designer — qualities that may well have contributed to my surviving as a global fashion designer.”