Tag Archives | designer

San Francisco Stories: Designer Candice Cuoco of CCUOCO

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.

SF Stories San Francisco Bay Area Designer Candice Cuoco of House of CCUOCO

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.

SF Stories San Francisco Bay Area Designer Candice Cuoco of House of CCUOCO

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.

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FAST Interview: Ming Cong

In December I was honored to receive a personal invitation to UC Berkeley’s FAST Fall 2013 Runway Show. After witnessing this amazing group of students put together a fun, professional show, and get a peek at some truly exceptional collections, I knew that I wanted to get to know this group better.

I recently sat down the president of FAST, Ming Cong, to chat about fashion, Berkeley, and her plans for world domination. Kidding. Sort of.

Ming.Cong.FAST.Black.Leather

MCLV:   You’re studying Molecular & Cell Biology at UC Berkeley and had grown up planning to become a doctor – What first interested you in joining FAST? Why stay involved?

I discovered FAST when I was going through an emotional slump my freshman year. My sense of style was dead, I slept twice as much as I do now, and I was apathetic towards everything. I didn’t know what the rest of my life had in store. I felt safe pursuing a pre-medical route, but shortly realized that doing so was simply the easy way out.

Joining FAST gave me a chance to be creative and do something unusual, which was fun. At the encouragement of my roommate Grace, I started out as a designer. I sketched for weeks, covered my floor with pins (sorry, Grace), and stayed up till 3am sewing on a tiny Brother machine. Looking back, my first collection was absolutely terrible but I am glad I completed it. Afterwards, I kept designing because I felt the need to create a better collection to compensate for the previous collection. Eventually, I kept getting more and more involved with FAST until I considered changing career paths.

MCLV: Since you joined FAST you’ve become President, worked on increasing efficiency & streamlining the student-run organization, and you produced your first FAST Runway Show in December. What do you have planned for FAST during 2014?

My biggest plan is to expand our audience and increase our presence on the UC Berkeley campus. We sold about 275 tickets at the Fall 2013 show, which is our biggest audience to date. Just a year ago, we would get excited about selling 240.

I want to continue that expansion. I want young artists to know that there’s a creative outlet for them to design. I want FAST to be taken seriously as a legitimate platform for young artists to explore careers in the fashion industry.

Ming.Cong.FAST.Glitter

MCLV: You’re a junior at UC Berkeley now, what do you hope to accomplish before you graduate?

My biggest plan is to finish my bachelor’s degree, juggle a part-time job, manage FAST, and also find time to hangout with my crazy friends. Hopefully the MCB gods are merciful and my next string of biochemistry classes does not kick my butt.

MCLV: Your next big project for FAST is the Spring 2014 Runway Show – Is there anything you’d like to do differently than the Fall show? Anything you’re interested in improving on this time around?

Of course! There’s always room for improvement. I am definitely looking forward to producing the show at a different venue. At our last fashion show, we gave out standing room only to some ticket holders because we sold out. We did not have enough seats for everyone. Our audience is expanding and our venue needs to reflect that.

Additionally, I hope to obtain more sponsorships for our organization. I want to reach a point where financial limits no longer exist for our student designers because they truly are the most inspiring young artists. They deserve the best fabric, the best fashion show we can produce. (Please email fastcalpr@gmail.com if you are interested in sponsoring FAST!) Lastly, I would also love to produce a creative fashion film that introduces the conceptual theme of the show. As much as I love the administrative side of FAST, I miss creating art.

MCLV: What do you hope your FAST legacy will be after you leave Berkeley?

Hopefully just to keep inspiring people. FAST changed my life in a way that no professor or textbook ever could. Currently, I am training other executive board members so that when the time comes to pass the torch, the next generation will make FAST an even greater organization.

Ming.Cong.FAST.Black

{All images by Moja Ma’at}

MCLV: What’s your number one fashion-related goal right now?

Last week, I visited New York and met Tamara Mellon, the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, who gave me career advice and tips about breaking into the industry. She emphasized the importance of dedicating your first 6-7 years to learning the ropes of the business through internships and entry-level positions. Thus, my primary immediate goal is to complete a buying or marketing internship for a major fashion brand this summer. Hopefully that leads to employment opportunities down the line!

MCLV: What are your dreams and goals for your own career? Where in the fashion industry do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

My biggest dream is to be a fashion editor for Vogue someday (hit me up, Anna!). In 5 years, I see myself graduating from an MBA program, overworking myself a little, then eventually working as a Chief Creative Officer for a major brand like McQueen. I’ll probably live in a tiny New York apartment with a family of dogs and an all black wardrobe. I don’t foresee much sleep in my future, but I’ll be the happiest lady around.

Like I said – World domination is clearly in the works here. I’m very excited to have met this talented, driven young lady and can’t wait to see what she what she accomplishes next! If you’re interested in learning more about FAST {Fashion & Student Trends} you can visit their Facebook page here.

Stay tuned for more on the FAST Spring 2014 runway show and your chance to win a ticket to join me for the show!

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Project Runway: IIMUAHII Couture Interview

How many people can say that they’ve been on a successful reality television show? How many people can say that they’ve designed a collection and watched it slink down the glimmering runway of New York Fashion Week? How many people can say that they’ve collaborated with an international pop group?

Elena Slivniyak can!

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{Momoiro Clover Z (“MCZ”) Gunn Collaboration}

This Project Runway alum and creator of IIMUAHII Couture has left reality TV & her first Ready-To-Wear collection behind to focus on her passions – Couture & Avant-Garde designing and costuming.

Since she left the set of Project Runway Allstars this past Summer she’s gone from one major project to the next. And luckily all of that hard work is going to pay off as she works on the costuming for an amazing new film project.

But don’t worry, you can see her designs in motion before that blockbuster hits theater in the Momoiro Clover Z Gounn collaboration – Check out the music video here.

Project-Runway-IIMUAHI-San-Francisc-Fashion-Blogger-Elena-Studio-Shoot-Black

I walked into the IIMUAII studio armed with pages of research, interview questions, and more than a few butterflies.

However, the soft-spoken, laid-back beauty that greeted me was so straight forward and easy to talk with all my careful planning immediately flew out of my head.

Don’t worry though, even if I didn’t ask a single question that I’d prepared, I did learn some interesting things about Elena & IIMUAHII during our long chat.

  1. Elena draws a great deal of inspiration from the Far East and cites Japan and traditional samurai costuming as something that always fires up her imagination. Another source of inspiration for this creative force? Science Fiction!
  2. IIMUAHII is a friend to both the planet and animals. The studio produces eco-friendly, low-carbon pieces, and not only are they partnering with the animal safety non-profit Big Dawgs Rescue right now, they also only use faux fur for their collections.
  3. And of course no designer interview would be complete without asking who their dream customer would be. And for a woman who has already dressed celebrities like Tyra Banks & Kelly Roland and singing sensation Lady Gaga, that’s not an easy question to answer! So who is Elena’s dream customer? Madonna!
Project-Runway-IIMUAHI-San-Francisc-Fashion-Blogger-Studded-Handbag
So what am I most excited about when it comes to IIMUAHII’s bright future? I’m dying to try out the Koji Multi-Purpose Handbag as soon as possible. Seeing the pictures from the photo shoot and the prototype in the studio has only whet my appetite for the real thing!
What question would you ask your favorite Project Runway designer?
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Links You’ll Love

Fashion:

There’s a new “It” beauty blog in town brought to us by the fashionable French “It” girls the Courtin-Clarins. So if you’re in the mood for some tips, ideas, and/or product reviews head over to Beauty Flash Blog for more!

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Project time! Want to create your own chic sunglasses rack? Frassy Life has you covered with this fun and oh-so-easy version that you can do with simple things you’ve probably already got on hand.

Rachel Zoe’s jewelry line is full of fun, funky, retro-inspired pieces that can work with just about any look or destination. Don’t believe me? The stylist put together some killer looks for her pieces just to prove it – Day, Night & Workwear.

Sometimes a fashionista’s gotta do what a fashionista’s gotta do! Essential Indulgences for Fashion Bloggers – What are your indulgences and must haves?

dean quinn

I love discovering designers or an exciting new esthetic that suits my personal style to perfection. And with Fashion Week Month just starting, now’s the time to keep your eyes peeled! Check out The Ones To Watch from Harper’s Bazaar or Olivia Palermo’s Lines We Love: Chinti and Parker or Lines We Love: Anndra Neen.

If you’re starting to think about your Fall 2012 wardrobe why not get some recommendations from the fashionable editors over at Harper’s Bazaar? Smart Shopoing – Cheap Designer Clothes & Accessories.

Health & Fitness:

You know me, I’m a smoothie girl through and through. So was I ever excited when I heard that it was recently International Green Smoothie Day! PARADE! TICKER TAPE! Top 10 Green Smoothie Recipes: International Green Smoothie Day.

Sweet Strawberry Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

Desserts can be healthy. Or, just not as bad. So why not try something new and exciting like Persian Ice Cream, Sweet Strawberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce, or  – Go Cuckoo For Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

Snacking is a crucial part of my daily life. Making sure that my blood sugar doesn’t drop so I don’t end up cranky OR binging and falling into a food coma is important. Need some fun new ideas to shake things up? The Hungry Hungry Hippie has you covered – Vegetarian Snack Ideas.

I love going to the farmer’s market but we all know the tragedy of fruits & veggies going bad before we get the chance to use them. Well, it turns out there are some tricks of the trade to help keep your Farmer’s Market fare from turning too quickly! 13 Tricks and Tips For Keeping Produce Fresh Longer.

Getting in shape isn’t just about hitting the gym and getting enough walking in, it’s about how you’re fueling your body. Afterall, you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Don’t believe me? Take it from Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser – Why Nutrition Is Number One For Weight Loss.

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