Cho Cho Cheng, the man behind CHOCHENG, has been successfully paving his path in the fashion world since launching the brand in 2007. After studying fashion and costume design at Parsons School of Design and working in London’s Savile Row, he opened his first store in 2010 on Madison Avenue, followed by one in Beijing, another in London.
Cheng was introduced to fashion at young age, as his Grandmother, Betty Charnuis, was a noted designer in Hong Kong. Some would run from such an obvious path, but he embraced it, and forged his own.
On the tail end of New York Fashion Week, CHOCHENG debuted its latest collection at Spring Studios yesterday. It was inspired by the Hitchcock film North by Northwest, and encompasses an abundance of strongly tailored pieces, primarily in black and white, with a dash of Prince of Wales checks. CHOCHENG’s strong emphasis on and appreciation for craftsmanship and top notch tailoring lends itself to a sophisticated stylistic manifesto. Not to mention that the runway shows are conceptually amazing – with smartly curated playlists and retro vibes – and always a personal NYFW fave.
BlackBook spoke with Cheng before his NYFW extravaganza, and he filled us in on his inspirations, his favorite part of putting a show together…and he also gave us a sneak peak at the new collection.
Quickly after graduating from Parsons, you opened your first store on Madison Avenue.
Just before I graduated, the wonderful Mary McFadden was approaching retirement and generously offered to give me her team of sample makers. It was a great opportunity, so I took the offer. We began operating from the ground floor of my townhouse, I started making suits for Nancy Reagan and soon branched out to other private clients. Joan Rivers lived right next door, she passed by my shop all the time and would buy little gift items just to show support. I would have been quite happy working from my basement, operating on a small scale forever, but Ms. Rivers later told me that people on the block had been complaining about my shop not having a proper retail permit.
What made you decide to secure a permanent location?
With that bit of news, I decided to start looking for an official brick-and-mortar retail space. Steven and Stephanie Solomon – who, at the time, was the Fashion Director of Bloomingdale’s – have always been great supporters of my brand. They managed to convince Vornado Realty, who are quite supportive of young entrepreneurs, to let me have a Madison Avenue retail space right between Cartier and Gucci. Vornado recently decided to close up the whole block for upgrading, so we’re in the process of moving store locations.
Steven has come through again, convincing the Sherry Netherland [hotel] to lease me a prime retail space on 5th Avenue. I’ll be the first Asian designer label to launch on 5th Avenue, actually. The whole process has been incredible, miraculous.
Season after season, you have captured the art of retro dressing. You must have a favorite time period – if you had a time machine, what year would you go to?
I like the Napoleonic Era and Regency Era, but I wouldn’t want to go back there. I honestly can’t live without modern amenities. I am a pragmatic romantic.
Aside from designing the collection, what is your favorite part of putting together a fashion show? Model casting? Runway playlist? Styling the looks?
My favorite part would be the hair and makeup styling.
What is the philosophy behind CHOCHENG? What defines it as a fashion house?
CHOCHENG is classic, crafty, comfortable, cruelty-free. It’s about conservation of the environment and everything wonderful starting with a ‘C’. I am an egotist with OCD.
What and who are you main inspirations and muses?
Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher and Former First Lady, Nancy Reagan.
What is unique about this season’s collection?
Hand-ruched silk tulle, which imitates fur, in order to achieve cruelty-free glamour.
It’s known that your grandmother is a huge inspiration for your career in fashion. What is the best piece of advice she has given you?
Being well-dressed is to charge through life with well-padded shoulders.
He may not be a household name, but a good bet that we’ll be hearing much more from Goody Grace over the course of 2018. Indeed, the 20-year-old Canadian songsmith’s music represents such a unique hybridization of styles (as much influenced by Morrissey as by Wiz Khalifa), that he’s veritably unmistakable.
To wit, his hauntingly introspective single “Two Shots” (featuring Gnash) which, since its release in 2016, has racked up more than 12 million streams. Now signed to Atlantic, he’s just given the track a whole new life with the release of this fantastical new video. Crossing an unveiled homage to the Man From Another Place scene in the original Twin Peaks, with bizarre masked characters straight out of an underground Venetian Carnivale party, it perfectly captures the pensive mood of the song.
No live dates are currently scheduled, but Goody Grace’s debut EP will be released sometime this spring.
Reese Witherspoon is moving from the sunny shores of Monterey to the hateful halls of the Westboro Baptist Church. The actress is set to help produceThis Above All, a new film based on the life of Megan Phelps-Roper, the former member who left the church in 2012. Alongside Witherspoon, Marc Webb is set to direct and Nick Hornby will write the script.
The story will follow Phelps-Roper as she grew up in the church that became famous for protesting the funerals of gay murder victims, soldiers, AIDS victims, and others. Officially labelled as a hate group, the Westboro Baptist Church has become synonymous with their “god hates fags” slogan. It was also the place that Phelps-Roper called hope—she attended her first protest with her mom at the age of five and had protested for more than 20 years and became one of the most vocal members of the group on social media.
It wasn’t until she met and began talking to a Jewish blogger named David on Twitter that things began to change and, eventually, she left the church. “We’d started to see each other as human beings, and it changed the way we spoke to one another,” she explained at a TED Talk in February. “It took time, but eventually these conversations planted seeds of doubt in me.”
The movie has not yet found a star, but there are rumors Witherspoon could play the lead. While we’re all for a Witherspoon-led film about the notorious anti-gay church, taking another season of Big Little Lies away from us because of scheduling conflicts is a sin we wouldn’t forgive.
St. Vincent (Annie Clark) has released the neon-bright video for her new single “New York,” off of her forthcoming studio album that’s “all about sex and drugs and sadness,” according to her interview in The New Yorker.
The new album, much like another of our fave records this year (Melodrama), was recorded at Electric Lady studios in the West Village with producer-prodigy Jack Antonoff. It’s set for release this fall.
“New York”‘s video is directed by Alex Da Corte, who said of the film:
“I think Annie’s New York is the New York of my dreams—one that is blurry and fractured, dreamy and flat. It is the Toontown to my Hollywood. It is beautiful but slightly out of reach.”
Clark also recently announced that she’ll be directing a female-led feature length adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Watch him. A month after dusting off the all-white Batman suit he usually reserves for casual events like prom or Kim and Kanye’s wedding for his “Batman” music video, Jaden Smith is back at it again with a new single called “Watch Me.” With a guitar-heavy production reminiscent of Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” the new track has a chanting hook and a sound fit for arena shows, which he might be headed toward.
To say that the gender-defying young rapper, artist, and water bottle entrepreneur is having a big moment lately is an understatement. Besides the two new singles for his upcoming Syre album, Smith has also been busy teasing the debut of a K-POP single and establishing a partnership between Roc Nation and his art collective MSFTSrep, the art collective he runs with his sister Willow.
As part of the new deal, the Smith siblings and their friend Harry Hudson (currently the only three artists in the collective) will produce music under the Roc Nation name. The news is surprising given that the collective has been intentionally vague since its inception in 2013.
In typical Jaden Smith fashion, the website describes the group as “a creative work force dedicated to supporting and waking up the population of planet earth, through attaining knowledge and personal growth. But even that puts it into a box. Anything that could be put into words puts it in a box, because MSFTSrep is more of an expression rather than an explanation.”
Early Sunday morning, tragedy struck the Muslim community in Sterling, Virginia. It was around 3:30AM, according to Buzzfeed, that two men emerged from a car wielding baseball bats and targeted a 17-year-old Muslim girl named Nabra Hassanen and her two friends as they walked back to an all-night prayer session at the Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center. The three friends fled the scene but lost Nabra when they reunited.
Nearly twelve hours later, police found Nabra’s body beaten to death and floating in a pond and a discarded baseball bat nearby. Within hours, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres was arrested and charged him with murder in connection to the case. He had been eating at the same McDonalds restaurant the friends were at as they ate breakfast before beginning their fast at sunrise for Ramadan.
As Yufra Abdelmuid, a family friend of Nabra’s, explained of the events, “He was at the McDonald’s eating at the same time and he followed them in his car. He threw a beer bottle at them and they started running to the Bowl America parking lot nearby and he got out of his car with a bat and hit [Nabra] over the head.”
The girls had all been wearing traditional Muslim clothing called abayas that night and “definitely stood out,” Abdelmuid added. Yet, despite these details about the case, the Fairfax Police Department made a statement today announcing that the case was not being investigated as a hate crime.
What happened to Nabra is a tragedy that comes at a time of increased violence towards the Muslim community. Last month, a man murdered two people in Portland, OR, who jumped to a Muslim woman’s defense on a bus when he began shouting Islamophobic slurs at her.
Under a presidency that has tried and failed to ban Muslims from entering the country, hate crimes have skyrocketed and, last year, they jumped twenty percent. In the three-month span between Election Day and February 9th, 2017, Think Progress recorded 261 hate crimes—with 11.8% of those targeting Muslims. From January 1 to March 31, The Council on American-Islamic Relations received 1,597 reports of potential bias against Muslims.
Details are still emerging in Nabra’s case but The ADAMS Center has released a statement decrying the murder and Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring responded with a tweet stating, “The unspeakable murder in Sterling feels like an assault on our entire community. Love and respect must overcome hate.”
ILoveMakonnen just dropped a surprise 7-track EP called Fun Summer Vol. 1, so you don’t have to only listen to “Sign Of The Times” on repeat anymore.
Fun Summer Vol. 1 was announced over Instagram with the caption “New Vibes” – and it appears he’s really taking that concept to heart, since he deleted all of his previous posts and has his bio set as “NEW Makonnen.”
Makonnen also asked listeners to name their fave new song of the set in the comments, and upon scouring the reactions it seems “Dark Blue” and “Kiss For Me” are the early frontrunners for new summer jams, both songs about young love and parties.
Take a listen to the entire Fun Summer Vol. 1 below:
Makonnen most recently released last year’s Drink More Water 6:
He also did a duet in 2016 with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig:
We may still be pulling ourselves together after HBO’s Big Little Lies miniseries wrecked our hearts and taught us how to love rich white California moms in a way we didn’t know was possible, but hope is on the horizon. Julia Roberts—the Oscar-winning actress and 90s rom-com queen of our hearts—is in talks to star inHomecoming, an HBO adaptation of the hit podcast series that wasn’t about about an elusive home workout guru.
In its original form, Homecoming was a political thriller told through a collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions and overheard conversations and centered on a caseworker at a secret government facility, her supervisor, and a soldier trying to adjust to life off the battlefield. While the original series featured the vocal talents of Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris and David Cross, the new TV adaptation has yet to name the cast members who’ll undoubtedly create our next obsession but it’s in good hands. The new series is being written by the original podcast writers and will feature the magic of Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail.
Alongside this high-profile project, Roberts is also set to make her starring role in another HBO show called Today Will Be Different. The limited series is based on Maria Semple’s bestselling novel and follows a single day in the life of Eleanor Flood as she tries valiantly to be her best self and get her life together while navigating modern life. Between Today Will Be Different and Homecoming, HBO is proving that the only thing better than one Julia Roberts show is two.