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.