It is hard to love fashion since you were 10 but to wait 20 years until you open your own business. It may be tough to start from nothing but a pair of scissors or to feel like a wanderer through your own country. It is not easy to be Miss Perfect every day. But it is refreshing and empowering to inspire thousands of women from all over. These 5 girls (the designers and the muses) have overcome all the fears. And make us be confident in our powers. In a girl power.
What does Christelle Kocher, Cara Delevingne, Masha Ma, Vanessa Seward and Gigi Hadid (pictured above, in this order) have in common? Amazing clothes, runways, incredible careers in modelling but also dazzling stories of their brand’s development, stories about the challenges in their lives, as well as mistakes, fears and goals. And these are the reasons that these are the designers and the model to love and their stories could be included in She’s Mercedes community (www.mercedes-benz.ro), a place where women can connect and exchange ideas, share experiences and learn from one another. The designers and the muses may be part of it.
Christelle Kocher (Koché): the voice of wisdom
She knew she will be a fashion designer since she was 10. But she took the fashion journey step by step until she managed to have her own brand (at 37). Growing up in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, Christelle Kocher started watching fashion shows and, by the time she was 10, she knew she would become a designer. Her role models were mostly designing women: Rei Kawakubo, Miuccia Prada, Madame Grès and Madeleine Vionnet. “I’m not a feminist fashion designer at all, but it’s true, I feel close to women designers and women artists, because I think they have a different relationship to fashion,” she said in a recent interview. “When you’re a woman and you design women’s wear, it’s different.”
And she made it different. Christelle Kocher, with her ready-to-wear label Koché, launched in 2014, blends streetwear influences and references to contemporary art with the kind of upscale techniques usually reserved for handmade creations (her latest collection included ruffled chiffon shirts combined with basketball shorts, and lacy slip dresses with baggy faded jeans, tank tops and tennis dresses hand-crocheted with rows of tulle, chiffon, feathers, beads and sequins).
Christelle Kocher graduated Central Saint Martins, worked for Emporio Armani, Martine Sitbon, Chloé, Sonia Rykiel, Dries Van Noten and Bottega Veneta. In 2010, she was appointed artistic director of Maison Lemarié, one of 12 specialty ateliers owned by Chanel through its subsidiary Paraffection. With her own brand, Koché, she was nominated for two LVMH Prizes and the 2016 ANDAM Fashion Award. (http://www.koche.fr)
Masha Ma – the Chinese warrior
When we are looking at all those sparkling boutiques and the celebrities that wear her designs (Naomi Campbell, Georgia May Jagger or Lady Gaga) we could hardly believe that Masha Ma, the Chinese fashion designer, started, as she said in an interview, “with a pair of scissors”. And she’s not how we, Europeans, could picture that a Chinese designers looks like. Nor her designs. Dragons and golden embroidery? Forgot about that! “I don’t have anything against. But they were never part of the Soviet-like China I grew up in. Everything was very grey, very uniform”, Masha Ma said. Therefore, Ma believes in power of self-expression and confidence. She often posts encouraging messages to her 190,000 mostly female followers on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, such as “Don’t hesitate to say what you think” or “Be yourself, you don’t have to fake anything.”
In her early teens, Ma won awards for classical painting. Her family assumed she would be an artist. She chose fashion instead after reading a copy of Elle China. Beijing-born Ma chose London at the age of 16, when she won a place on the foundation course at Central Saint Martins and spent the next seven years there doing BA and MA degrees. During her studies she worked as an intern with Alexander McQueen – her first fashion idol – and Veronique Branquinho. After a successful graduation show, she started her own Masha Ma label and launched her acclaimed debut collection in Paris in 2012. Masha Ma was selected as Vogue China’s and Yoox.com’s Talent Corner recipient in 2012, the brand was also chosen to take part in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund China Exchange programme. (http://www.masha-ma.com)
Vanessa Seward – the ground based designer
I really think there is nothing random in this world. The invitation from Jean Touitou, the founder of A.P.C had to be addressed to Vanessa Seward. And that is because that capsule collection of denim in 2012 changed her life. Born in Buenos Aires and grew up in London and Paris, Seward already had a mixed kind of style (and she was hugely photographed). After training at the Studio Berçot, Vanessa Seward worked with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel for nine years and then with Tom Ford at Yves Saint Laurent. Actually, her first job was in the accessories studio of Chanel – the dream job for a young woman. “My fantasy at the time was going to work for someone like Martine Sitbon, somebody cool”, she smiled. And after that she continued as creative director of the eveningwear powerhouse Azzaro, which she left following the birth of her daughter.
The collaboration with A.P.C., which was intended as a one-off, sold out almost immediately. Touitou asked Seward to design another season, and then another. Three years later, she finally think of launching her own line, sold on www.vanessaseward.com. At 45 years, Vanessa put her first collection for fall 2015 on Paris Fashion Week runway (and opened two boutiques in Paris), an instant hit with the press and customers. “A woman looks good when she wears something that won’t mask her own personality”, she said, remembering her mother’s flamboyant way of dressing and her particular glamour.
“I like to create flattering pieces that give women confidence, because that is what I need myself. It’s not about looking overly intellectual or trendy, but beautiful.”
Gigi Hadid – the rocket star topmodel
To start the modelling career at two years old, for Guess, that’s a real bang! But even Jelena Noura “Gigi” Hadid dropped the studio lights for school (or, may I say, her parents decided to do that – her mother also was a model in Netherlands), in 2013, at 18, she came back in business. And she did it in a great way; after a year Hadid made her debut in the Top 50 Models ranking and in 2016, she was named International Model of the Year by the British Fashion Council. Now, she’s 22 and she’s every designer darling. Even she owns a part of her incredible success and audience to her social-media presence and her connection she has with her fans, she said she’s not going to take advantage of her fans to promote a campaign or a product (she gained like a million followers more after this statement)
Gigi Hadid did it all: she was on Pirelli Calendar in 2015, she was name Maybelline ambassador, she appeared in Victoria’s Secret show (shhh, after two rejections), she appeared on all the important magazine covers in the world, she started her own capsule collection with the fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger, she walked in every possible show on the planet. She starred in 6 music videos alongside Taylor Swift. She revealed in 2014 that she was diagnosed with Hashimoto disease but she’s still working hard for every season shows.
During Fall/Winter 2017 Fashion Month in New York, Milan and Paris, Hadid opened the shows for Jeremy Scott, Anna Sui, Versus (Versace), Alberta Ferretti, Missoni, H&M, Balmain and closed the shows for Isabel Marant, Moschino, Max Mara, Anna Sui.
Cara Delevingne – the superkid
She’s not a kid anymore. But Cara is funny, always surprising and she overcome all her hard times with sincerity. Model for a Vogue Italia, at 10 years old (shot by Bruce Weber), Cara conquered the fashion world with her wild eyebrows (she actually launched a trend!) and her “I don’t care” attitude. A hard user of social media, Cara exposed all her crazy looks on Instagram and Stories. In the fall of 2014, Delevingne secured her place in Instagram history when she walked the Giles Deacon show at London Fashion Week and became the first ever to take a runway video selfie. But we saw her, a lot, also, on the most magazine covers and in advertising campaigns from Burberry (the campaign for spring/summer 2011 of Christopher Bailey put her on the top of everybody preferences) Chanel (she was, foe some seasons, Karl Lagerfeld muse), Fendi, Perla, Saint Laurent, Balmain, Marc Jacobs, Tag Heuer, Tom Ford and many others.
Cara Delevigne is a kid with many talents. She could sing, play drums and guitar and she acted (a lot) in Hollywoodian productions as Anna Karenina, Paper Towns, Suicide Squad, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. She also is an avid gamer who loves “Call of Duty”.A declared bisexual. And a person who know when to step back. She admitted, in a Vogue interview, in 2015, that she had a hard battle with depression when she was a teenager and, above all, she disclosed that a major reason for quitting modelling (her account was removed from Storm agency in that year) and focusing on acting was that the stress had, at least to some degree, contributed to her developing the skin condition psoriasis. “I realise that work isn’t everything and success comes in many forms. I’ve opened my mind, and now I embrace new things with a childlike curiosity. I’m spending more time doing the stuff I love”.
She’s successful. She’s fashionable. She’s Mercedes.
Mercedes-Benz stands for the best or nothing. Every success story is unique, but striving to excel is a trait all successful women share. But what is success? We believe it cannot be reduced to one aspect alone, but is far more an intelligent and balanced interplay of personal and professional fulfilment. The will to shape and define our own path is the driving force behind our modern concept of success. We believe that the power of inspired minds can effect excellence. She’s Mercedes is the canvas of this idea: an Inspiration Circle; a place where women can connect and exchange ideas, share experiences and learn from one another; a hub for sparking conversation, offering new perspectives and supporting ambitions.
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