Candice Cuoco is the force behind House Of CCUOCO, we met some years ago at a her fashion show in San Francisco. Since then she went on to styling fashion icon Eve Salvail‘s photo shoot in New York with Dark Beauty Magazine, showcased at London Fashion Week twice, New York Fashion Week and SF Fashion Awards. Her show stopping London Fashion Week launch in February 2015 with her collection, named “Definition” echos themes of Sabotage, Religion and Romance. In 2013 she was awarded ‘Best Emerging Designer’ during San Francisco Fashion Awards. By 2014 she was nominated Designer of the Year and won Fashions Most Honorable at the San Francisco Fashion Awards. CCUOCO were featured in Vogue and Glamour magazine following their London Fashion Week preview in 2014. CCUOCO continued to receive accolades for their fashion forward design in 2014 when the label picked up the top award ‘Most Stylist’ at the San Francisco Style Awards. Dark Beauty Music had the pleasure of putting together her runway music for London Fashion Week, so it’s to our delight and honor to introduce you once again to this super talent…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Photography Joel Aron
Styled and Directed by David Reposar
Photographs featured from London Fashion Week
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Where were you born?
From a place that doesn’t exist on earth. Well, at least I feel like I come from somewhere that isn’t on this planet. With that being said, my birth certificate says I was born in Hayward, raised in Oakland and is forever connected to San Francisco.
You went to FIDM the premier Fashion Design School in San Francisco, how did the school stimulate and inspire you?
Before I attended FIDM I had already began sewing and designing. I created a few small collections for a well known SF based dance group called Desired Temptations owned by Jessica Rae and showed for SF Fashion week along with other events like Stars and stripes for the Playboy Mansion. I noticed a missing link within myself, a weak link. Although the talent was there, the vision, the inspiration and the drive, I was missing the skill. Patterning is so important for a designer to understand and be able to do. Without understanding the construction of a garment you wont know the endless possibilities that are available for you to create. By utilizing this skill that FIDM taught me I am able to go out into my field and know that no one can tell me, “That cant be done,” because FIDM taught me how to decide that for myself. That wasn’t the only inspiration FIDM gave me. It also gave me friendships that I cherish. Julius Lumdson was a former instructor of mine. He began teaching the same quarter I began my journey at FIDM. I truly believe that if Julius had not been a leading instructor of mine I would have been lost in the chaos of design school. I would pay to listen to this man think. He’s a complete inspiration and the most honest and intuitive person I know and now a dear friend of mine. FIDM also gave birth to one of my most cherished friendships I have now.
Her name is Kerstyn Inouye. <CLICK HERE- My muse and sister, she has became the FACE of my label. She represents everything I admire in a young woman. What I would give to have her as my business partner and how lucky I feel to have her as a friend.
How would you describe your creations?
Armor, metaphorically speaking, my garments are to embody the idea of armor. When put on, laced up, zipped in, it transforms the woman. I always want the women who wear my garments to feel empowered. When stepping into the realm of society, people get the essence of strength these woman have. The pieces I create are to subtly suggest ownership of oneself as a woman. Society proceeds to tell women they have to be soft and quiet to fall in the lines of being a Lady. I don’t want to be a Lady, I am not soft in character nor quiet and I do not want to design for a Lady. I want my garments to scream I design for WOMEN WITH STRENGTH.
There’s always been a cross pollination of Fashion and Music. Do you find that one over powers the other or do they both work in perfect harmony? Give us an example of when it works in perfect harmony:
I like to imagine my line as a beautiful sonnet. There is a definite connection to the way fashion and music are produced. Both based on the emotional value of something you have or want to experience. A glimpse into what an emotion looks and sounds like to us. An expression that has become tangible through our senses. One gives life to the other. When you are a creative individual, something like music or fashion only help ignite your creativity even more. Its all energy, just interpreted in different mediums.
You work a lot with leather, what draws you to this material?
It is a direct symbolic reference to what it means to be a woman to me. Leather symbolizes strength. There is a romance in the skin that people fall in love with. The smell, the feel, the character of each piece, the transformation of it when you have it on you and the effect it leaves, just like a woman. It is like your second skin. Depending on how you chose to present it to the world in your wardrobe that day speaks to the story you want to tell the world.
Congrats on being invited to New York Fashion Week, tell us in detail about your experience there:
I was invited to do a show called Runway the real way. It was a cross pollination of what real women look like and a taste of high fashion. Loving all women, I was immediately enthralled by the idea of having my label be apart of this experience and all that it stood for. Catherine Schuller brought me on board and my team and I flew out to NY to make it all a reality. The real magic came from the unity of my team. I believe in the power of your circle. I am fortunate to have a very strong unit. Kerstyn Inouye my muse and David Reposar (Artistic Director) and secret weapon, although it’s not secret. Kerstyn and David helped herald and breath life into the vision that was carried out that day in New York for Fashion Week. It didn’t stop there, I had a number of members from London that flew in to make the day run smooth. My garments take detailed time to get into and “The London calling Crew,” had it HANDLED. It was then I realized how important it is to believe in those who believe in you. Everyone was there for the cause, to stand for an underlying belief in what real women stand for in the industry. It was a beautiful chaos back stage that will forever hold a place in my heart as my first NY RUNWAY SHOW done the REAL WAY.
HOUSE OF CCUOCO LONDON FASHION WEEK
All creative people are inspired by something, what are some of your inspirations?
The women who surround me. My mother being the focus in this topic. My mother is the epitome of what it means to be a bad ass. The woman who taught me how to love myself for who I am and not what society wants me to be. My mom has always had my back, there for me even when I didn’t deserve it. Showed me what it was to love another human being. Every moral and value that I embody is a reflection of my mother. She is in every stitch of every creation.
What are some pros and cons when doing a fashion show in a nightclub setting?
When you are in something for life, such as I am with my label, there are no cons. There is only room for growth. At times I often hear people say, clubs can have smaller turn outs, less people. Why not take that chance make your show that much more intimate. The club scene has an energy to it that you have to experience at least once in your designer life. You are putting on a show for the love of LOVING something and that’s the beauty of it.
Where can people buy your designs?
CCUOCO is sold online on my website at www.ccuoco.com. You can also get the full body leather experience given a giant thank you to Skip Pas, owner of West Coast Leather, you can buy my line directly from his store. I like to describe Skip as the man who gave me my creative wings to fly.
How about letting our readers know something personal about you?
I believe one of the most personal and sacred pieces to my puzzle are my children. They keep me grounded in ways I do not allow others to ground me by. I always say my children can walk through walls. They access parts of me that I never knew were there. A love that you only understand when you are looking into the eyes of your child. A love that has redefined what it means to love and to be loved. My Son is everything I want to be and my daughter is everything I wish I could be. I have little eyes watching me and giving them a symbol of strength as a woman is important to me but them knowing that they are my strength is even more important.
Tell us what music is playing in your ipod?
I covet Lana Del Rey but I tend to call myself a bipolar music connoisseur. Much like my design work I have to feel the song. There has to be an emotional connection to it for me to enjoy it deeply. SO in my iPod you have an array that ranges from Bocelli to Pantera. That’s not to say I don’t go back to my roots from time to time and blast AC/DC and Lynard Skynard and on a good day there is always Gaga and Florence <3
What are some House of CCUOCO milestones?
For all of you who travel to Europe you will be happy to know House Of CCUOCO launched in the UK, based out of London. All thanks to a great man, friend and Head of UK Operations, Sumit Selli. I admire all that he stands for and couldn’t thank him enough for what he has done for my brand. We did London Fashion Week as well. So visit the website often to keep up with all the latest insatiable seductions. For House Of CCUOCO as a whole, I don’t have a start or an end on my list. My life is House Of CCUOCO. I live eat and breathe my work. I am married to my passion and make love to it every day and night.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
A question that hits home for me. Often people mistake my style for goth. They couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a beautiful mystery to darkness that holds a truth to who I was. The story of how light grew from darkness. Life is a journey and at times can be painful but the true beauty lies in how you blossom from it, with it. “Dress to Conquer.” – House Of CCUOCO