The Collision of Worlds - Merging Couture with Sport
March 06, 2024
The Collision of Worlds - Merging Couture with Sport
  French Fries Magazine recently conducted an in-depth interview with Christelle Kocher, the Director of Chanel Haute Couture, regarding her latest collaboration with Jelenew. During the interview, Kocher offered valuable insights into haute couture,drawing from her extensive experience in the world of high fashion. She discussed her sources of inspiration, her ongoing motivation for creating new works, and shared her experiences working on Jelenew's product collection.
 Christelle, as an outstanding designer, how has your collaboration with Chanel influenced your design philosophy and sought out your professional journey?
CHRISTELL KOCHER. For me, working at Chanel, Maison Dorée and at Maison Lemarié for 14 years made my philosophy evolve year after year in working with very skilled people and craftsmen and women. It made me want to surpass myself, keep curious, keep innovating and work with excellence in ready-to-wear and in haute couture. Working in Paris is the best place for savoir faire. That also makes me want to reach this higher level and drive further and further.
 Could you share some key experiences during your time at Chanel that continue to inspire your work today?
C.K. Working at Chanel and Maison Dorée in all those houses is also for me a question of how I can renew their know-how. How can I innovate? Thanks to new technology, thanks to innovations such as laser cut or digital printing, we are able today to, as I did in one season with Virginie Viard, do printing on some feathers and laser cut feathers. Things I couldn't have done before. So for me, thanks to technology and innovation and my personal curiosity, there is always a way to innovate and that's more important. Stay curious.

Your creative output is influenced by a lot of experiences and exploring art galleries. How do these passions translate into your design process?
C.K. I'm very passionate about art in general, and I'm very passionate about craft, fashion and historic culture. For me, they are linked to each other because to reflect on art is to reflect on our society, on the world. And the same for clothes. It is very intrinsically linked to culture, to the habit. When I look at art, it's always an opportunity to translate some colors and some reflection. Talking about the 70s, those women that were starting to do feminist movements but inspired by textile they took back their history through needlework, through knitting. They did some new work. I look to Louis Bourgeois or later, Tracey Emin or Sarah Lucas, all those great women that make art and textile as a way of political commentary and our own voice through feminist art.
 Does cycling feature in your routine? How does this activity influence your approach to designing women's sportswear?
C.K. I have done a lot of sports since I was eight years old. I played handball, but many other sports too. That gave me a strength, a way of viewing healthy competition. Stay healthy, stay motivated. I have this will to overcome myself. I've also seen team spirit because even when you do a sport, even with cycling, you need people who have the best bicycle the best seat and also clothes to help you to perform and to beat yourself. Today, I'm not a professional, but it gives me my mental strength. Every morning I do sports at 6am. It's kind of a routine. It helps me to keep my inspiration high and to also maintain my focus. That's very important. I like to cycle in Paris a lot. Not in competitions, but I would sometimes do some cycling with some friends. It's also a way to gather and put energy together. That's great!

 Your collaborations with sportswear brands like Puma or A.C. Milan showcase your ability to bridge couture and sportswear. With your experience in bringing haute couture to street style, what unique perspective do you bring to sportswear collaborations?
C.K. Collaborating with sports brands is to always look with a fresh perspective and to bring the excellence, the beauty and the world of couture, the perfection of couture, into sportswear, but also the world of beauty. With Puma, I reworked a lace print with very dynamic colors and some very feminine details inspired by corsets. I was playing with different kinds of fabrics with A.C. Milan, I was playing with a print and making very digital, turning the club to the future. It was inspired by art, inspired by technology, inspired by the new youth and new energy that I think the club is getting. It's always about bringing new perspectives, but in excellence in terms of refinement of techniques and finishing.
 How do you navigate the interplay between the pressures of haute couture techniques and the dynamism of a sport?
C.K. If you look at couture, it's all about detail. It's all about construction, it's all about your beauty. But, in sportswear, what is interesting is it is also a lot of very specific stitching. Machines that give you and allow you to do free movements, to make yourself comfortable. Being comfortable for me is to be confident. And, when you bring the beauty, the comfort, the confidence and the sense of detail into some products I think the magic appears. And, also for women, to make them feel strong, powerful and confident. That's what I always try to do.

 Let's talk about your work with Jelenew. What inspired you to partner with a brand dedicated to women's cycling?
C.K. Working with Jelenew was very inspiring because it's one of the first brands that make clothes for cycling for women and designing for women. They think about their body shape, a sense of sophistication and about finishing. That was very interesting to see. The level of complexity and high quality that those products have was interesting. I wanted to inject a certain level of lifestyle, what it is to wear clothes in this universe, before and after workout because their product is conceived for competition. I wanted to complement this, thinking in the same way, but thinking about how I can inject fashion, a bit of style, while still being about comfort and very good quality clothes. This was very nice. The fabrics come from Japan. They are very nice, very soft jerseys with finishing which are inspired by couture. They have a sophisticated palette of colors with a very good match.
 Your cooperation with Jelenew is about more than just clothes. What do you hope to communicate through this partnership?
 C.K. It is about giving confidence and power to women, to make them feel good and comfortable while also being very stylish.
 How does it reflect both your personal design and the evolving narrative of women's cycling?
C.K. This collaboration embodies a sense of freedom. When you cycle, when you take your bike, you have speed and you feel free. I wanted this collaboration to also give strength to women and give them freedom. I wanted to give them the opportunity to take power of their own lives and their own view and become what they want to be. 
Empowering Women Through Style and Performance
  When talking about this collboration with Jelenew, Christelle Kocher commented that this collaboration with Jelenew is about giving confidence and power to women, to make them feel good and comfortable while also being stylish. Jelenew is the industry leader in creating cycling apparel, especially for women. Jelenew takes into consideration different body sizes and finishes the design with a sense of sophistication.Jelenew is dedicated to creating women-centered cycling and athletic products with exceptional level of complexity and high quality and Christelle Kocher's addition injects haute couture sophistication, original style into the collection while still focusing on comfort and athletic practicalities.

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