Welcome back to another installation of the SF Stories series!
Last time we caught up with model, actress, singer, jack-of-all-trades Jenefer Taylor and before that I sat down with Nataliia Karpenko to chat about staying healthy on the go. Today I’m back to share my interview with San Francisco-based designer Candice Cuoco.
Her name should sound familiar as her brand CCUOCO has made a number of appearances here on MCLV. We did a leather-clad lookbook last year featuring some of her amazing Spring/Summer 2014 collection, I was thrilled to join her for London Fashion Week last September, and I recently shared her first bridal collection on the blog.
I initially met Candice in September 2013 at San Francisco Fashion Week and proposed a coffee date a month or so later. Our “quick meeting” stretched into a two-hour gab fest covering everything from dating in San Francisco to her upcoming collections to, naturally, our plans for world domination. We’ve been friends ever since and she even did me the honor of making me a custom leather piece to wear for New Year’s Eve.
There are a number of things that impress and inspire me about Candice. Not only has she created a design house from the ground, meeting every challenge head on, but she’s done so while remaining true to herself, her roots, and her vision of the future. Read on to hear her talk about fashion week, personal style, and staying focused.
MCLV: To date you’ve shown collections at New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week – Was there a distinct difference between the two locales?
CC: Much like the difference in a relationship between loving and being in love, I enjoyed New York, but London owns my heart. The main distinction between my first NYFW appearance and my recent LFW show is my team. I have a small force to be reckoned with backing me when I’m in London.
Additionally, London has in the past and continues to give me the platform to create a show and express my vision however I choose to. I feel as though I thrive the minute I set foot in the UK.
MCLV: Any specific style, material, or piece that you’re dying to tackle in the future?
CC: YES! Power mesh is on my list of materials to dominate, and the perfect palazzo pant will be visited this season. When it comes to style I let that develop itself in my collection, more so than style there is always a message I am trying to infuse into every piece.
Always, always strength.
MCLV: Who is your dream client? Or is there someone that you think really embodies the CCUOCO Woman spirit?
CC: So many women in so many ways represent all that I stand and design for. Gaga for her pure raw passion, Niki for no shame, Beyoncé for demanding presence, Angelina Jolie for the way she makes strength look so femininely beautiful, FKA Twigs for the art she infuses into her music, and Lana for her beautiful broken heart.
These woman have overcome mountains and hurdled over every obstacle life threw at them and conquered. Never letting society define them, always pushing the boundaries and breaking them for women all around the world. They are the epitome of CCUOCO and what we stand for, women with strength.
MCLV: Your personal style is practically trademarked at this point: Head-to-toe black, blunt cut bangs, and a bold red lip. How has your personal style evolved over the years and how did you come to create your signature look?
CC: The moment I stopped trying to be what everyone wanted me to be I became myself. It was natural. I was always too much – Too loud, too opinionated, too much makeup, hair too dark, too tall, showed too much skin.
I realized watering yourself down to comfort others only makes you feel lost and confused. I gave up on what society told me I needed to be as a woman and gave in to what made me proud to be the woman I am today. Black is my happy color and it celebrates who I am and who I was in so many ways. My very repetitive style is a constant reminder of how I will ALWAYS stand true to my perception of myself not of what others think I should be.
MCLV: You’re a determined, independent woman who has earned every ounce of her success – And that strength is something that’s very visible in your collections. Can you tell us about the CCUOCO woman?
CC: CCUOCO stands for the woman who is fierce at heart, for the women who have learned the rules and know how to break them. For the woman who wears, not her heart on her sleeve but her strength.
Those who are a driving force in their family, love, and career lives. When you wake up and get dressed, the moment you walk out your front door you are delivering a message, and I want to be a part of that message.
Want to see more from House of CCUOCO? Head over to Legally Vogue for more interview questions – House of CCUOCO: Branding, Expansion & Tackling London.