Button Button Bag ()
Editor's Letter Stephanie's Edit Paris Edit Evening Edit Essentials Guide About Membership Store
CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan

Fashion, Friendship, and Form

Text by
Stephanie Danan
Edited by
Amanda Fortini

I spent part of last winter in my Paris apartment, in almost total isolation. It was very cold outside, and other than long walks in the Tuileries with members of my new design team to talk about our creative process, or the occasional drink with friends in the neighborhood, I did not leave my home. I did not want to venture very far. I could not venture very far. I felt fragile and was processing the changes in my life while looking toward what felt like a bumpy road ahead. My time alone was spent doing research for the next collection and writing. And then, every night around 6 p.m. Paris time, my amazing girlfriends—the true pillar of our lives as women—would start calling from Los Angeles to talk about life, children, love, and change.

During this quiet time, the initial inspirations and sketches for our Pre-Spring 24 collection began to come together, and by early March, the fittings were being scheduled. Slowly, as spring began to show its welcome face, the samples began to arrive. On the eve of our first fitting in Paris, as I lay in bed half-awake in my constant state of jetlag, my phone rang at 2 a.m. It was my dear friend, CO stylist, and true creative inspiration, Samuel Drira.

“Stephanie, I’m nervous about tomorrow,” he said in French. Samuel had just joined the CO team.

“Why?” I replied.

“Are you sure you are ready for this? I need to know that you are ready for this, or I cannot do this.”

My heart sank. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant. “Samuel, I’m a little taken aback—can you explain?”

“Well,” he said, after a pause, “I’m not interested in ‘lifestyle.’ I’m not interested in manufactured perfection.” My mind began to race.

Working alongside Samuel had been my dream since launching CO. During my years in the movie industry throughout the 90s and early 2000s, to escape the trials of filmmaking, and especially on flights heading to film festivals or location scouts, I would immerse myself in stacks of fashion magazines. American Vogue. Italian Vogue. The Face. ID. The allure of beautiful clothing provided solace to me. My most cherished read was the biannual gem, ENCENS, an independent publication untouched by commercial interests. Co-founded by Samuel and photographer Sybille Walter, the magazine embodied purity in every sense, and featured the most remarkable styling I had ever seen—by Samuel, of course. He could take the classic French look of a denim pant and plain white T-shirt, and style it with a deconstructed trench coat by a Japanese designer, adding a pair of dirty old vintage converse and slouchy socks. He could take a men’s white poplin shirt, tie it around a waist over a tiered skirt, and turn the whole look into a layered dress. He could take a roomy blazer and cinch it with a men’s tie, then pair it with knee-high socks and combat boots. After skimming through the magazine, I would run to my closet and try to emulate some of his looks, just as I did when I was 16 and fell in love with the way Molly Ringwald dressed in Pretty in Pink. After seeing that movie, I remember going into my closet with scissors in hand and chopping up my clothes up to make them look more deconstructed, worn, and unique. I got grounded for it, but the mischievous adolescent in me loved every moment of this rebellious act and cry for self-expression.

My most cherished read was the biannual gem, ENCENS, an independent publication untouched by commercial interests. Co-founded by Samuel and photographer Sybille Walter, the magazine embodied purity in every sense, and featured the most remarkable styling I had ever seen—by Samuel, of course.

CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan

Samuel is a true fashion historian in his own right. He understands craftsmanship, details, and is passionate about clothes in a way I have rarely seen in all my years in this industry. Almost none of his visual compositions are derivative; they are consistently one of a kind. Samuel had forged a distinctive language and this language spoke to me.

When we first launched CO, I still had a few copies of ENCENS I had purchased during my Hollywood years, but now I wanted them all. Finding back issues was difficult and I would spend hours looking for them on eBay. Slowly, over a period of a few months, I acquired dozens of issues and would spend hours studying them. One day, I felt the urge to write Samuel a letter but could not find a website or an email for him. I asked around. A designer friend of mine described Samuel and his band of collaborators as fashion rebels snubbing the system, hard to get to and just plain punk rock. I had always been attracted to creators with an independent spirit, so my curiosity only intensified, but I paused my quest to find him out of fear I would not meet his high standards. A few months later, though, I finally tracked down his information and got the courage to write.

Life works in funny ways, and I truly believe in the power of manifestation, because it turns out that on the very day Samuel received my email, his partner Sybille had showed him CO’s past lookbooks and websites. In our work he must have recognized hints of his own sensibility: an appreciation for volume, a deconstruction of feminine silhouettes, an amalgamation of masculine and feminine elements. A few months later, he and I met for tea at Café de Flore in Paris, and from there one of the great friendships and creative collaborations of my life began.

As I sat up in bed fearing the broken heart I would suffer if our collaboration was ending, I tried to compose myself and listen attentively to what he was communicating to me.

“Samuel what are trying to say?“

“I’m not interested in ‘lifestyle,’” he said—there was that word again—“I’m not interested in creating a ‘world.’ I want to create a silhouette, a silhouette in CO’s language. A silhouette for a woman you cannot place but a woman you want to be. Are you ready for this? Because I don’t want to waste my time or yours.”

“Lifestyle,” I thought, and in a split second the last ten years of my life flashed before me. Like so many designers these days, I had created a brand based on the idea of certain lifestyle, a prefab ideology rooted in specific aesthetic choices that convey a set of values, attitudes, and aspirations. In our case, we were creating a life of modern perfection, not only symbolically, as conveyed by our clothes, but in reality as well: from the Midcentury Modern house we lived in, with its minimalistic furniture by celebrated designers; to my son’s sweet wardrobe by Bonpoint or Japanese children’s designers; to the understated European station wagon we drove. None of it was outwardly pretentious, but it all had the sheen of perfection, along with a subtext of finely honed taste and tight control. In that moment, it all felt fraudulent, void of the joyful messiness of actual life.

Samuel, by contrast, wanted to create a novel silhouette, the shape and line of the fabric on the body. He was interested in pure form, not content. He wanted to deconstruct the unattainable idea of perfection and let the silhouette reflect the beauty of human imperfection. As he talked, I realized what that meant in the context of fashion: The true creators focus on silhouette and the others on lifestyle. Sure, the clothes denoting a certain lifestyle helps to contextualize the product for marketing and commercial purposes—to sell it—but the peril is that you are creating from the outside in rather than from the inside out. You are asking certain specific questions, and creating clothes based on the answers. Where does the woman you design for live? What kind of car does she drive? What supplements does she take? What beauty products does she use? Who cares! Samuel was pushing me to dig deeper, and this resonated not only with CO but with my own personal aspirations.

“I’m not interested in ‘lifestyle,’” he said—there was that word again—“I’m not interested in creating a ‘world.’ I want to create a silhouette, a silhouette in CO’s language. A silhouette for a woman you cannot place but a woman you want to be. Are you ready for this? Because I don’t want to waste my time or yours.”

I knew he was right and his conviction was infectious. I suddenly had an overwhelming sense that this was my fate; this was the direction in which my work and life were meant to go. This was why I had nearly drowned in the throes of such intense and overwhelming change the past two years, so I could get to this place and receive his message—the gift of clarity and transformation he was offering me. This nakedly honest exchange, and the feeling of exhilaration I felt from it, affirmed for me that I was ready to be bold. “You’re right,” I told him. “Please trust me. This is where I want to go, and I need you to help me get there.”

Even over the phone, I could feel his demeanor shift. I could sense his relief that I had risen to the occasion. He had grappled with the fear that his candor might jeopardize the beautiful friendship we had both been fortunate to discover later in life, and to cultivate over the past three years. But what he did not realize when he made that call was that my ideal relationships are built on authenticity, on candid and genuine communication. Pretense had no place in my vision of a perfect relationship. It no longer had any place in my life.

***
CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan

Throughout this process, I was reminded that change acts as a catalyst for heightened creativity. The pretenses I had erected were deconstructed, and truths I had been searching for as a designer, as a storyteller, and as a woman were revealed. My authenticity, vulnerability, and creativity, no longer submerged in a false way of being, began once again to fuel my work.

The morning after that fateful phone call, our fittings began. Inside my tiny Paris apartment, which was brimming with racks of garments, steamers, shoes, and fabrics, I observed Samuel collaborating with my team, the scene unfolding like a cinematic sequence in slow motion. There was nothing conventionally glamourous about it and yet there was nothing more glamourous. Scissors sheared off sleeves; waistlines shifted; shoulders broadened; volumes transformed; silhouettes morphed. As I watched, I realized that the striking parallels between the changing CO silhouette and the shifts in my own life were undeniable. The silhouette of my life was being altered.

In my apartment, with a front row seat to the transformation of the clothes, I couldn’t help but draw the obvious connections. Every adjustment was not only refining a garment but somehow aligning the evolving narrative of my life. Whenever I got too philosophical or cinematic about the work, Samuel would bring me back to the garment. Occasionally, our eyes would meet, and a knowing smile would affirm the trusting connection we had established.

Throughout this process, I was reminded that change acts as a catalyst for heightened creativity. The pretenses I had constructed were deconstructed, and truths I had been searching for as a designer, as a storyteller, and as a woman were revealed. My authenticity, vulnerability, and creativity, no longer submerged in a false way of being, began once again to fuel my work.

Who is the new CO woman that emerged from our work together? In a social media-saturated world where very little is concealed, this new enigmatic woman feels shrouded in mystery and grace. We can’t quite place her in any familiar landscape; instead, she carries the allure of the unknown, the complex, the multi-dimensional.

We do, however, know that her energy and style are captivating, self-assured, playful, and mischievous all at once. We want to be her. I want to be her. We hope you do as well.

Stephanie

CO - Editor's Letter by Stephanie Danan
New Arrivals Next
Read More
Editor's Letter
Editor's Letter
Editor's Letter
Close Button
Login
New Customers

Register now and enjoy the benefits of having an account:

Register
Recover Password
Register
Close Button Contact Us

For questions regarding your shopping experience, please contact us via email or by phone. We will respond to every email within 24 hours. Monday to Friday excluding holidays.

General Inquiries

info@co-collections.com

+1 (323) 428-2275

9AM - 6PM

Online Orders and Returns

shop@co-collections.com

Technical Support

shop@co-collections.com

Press

press@co-collections.com

Wholesale

amanda@co-collections.com

Japan Wholesale

co-sales@co-collections.com

Careers

careers@co-collections.com

intern@co-collections.com

Your Order Close Button
Add a membership and save on this order. Save 20% on all Essentials and online Exclusives for one year. Learn More Become a member for $150/year
Total

Member Total

Notify Me Close Button