The Glasgow fashion scene is bursting at the seams with creative talent, so it’s no surprise that Italian-born designer Silvia Pellegrino decided to start up her own label here. Chouchou creates unique hoods with a couture feel which appeal to the city’s fashion-forward, individual style. Unsurprisingly, Pellegrino’s range of Hollyhoods have attracted quite the following, and GUM were lucky enough to feature one of her striking pieces in our latest issue. Flick to page 20 of our ‘Blackout’ feature to see the Hollyhood Rose in action. We caught up with the designer again to talk hoods, hoods, hoods!
How did Chouchou get started?
It started when I was an intern for a company called Kucoon in LA in 2007, that was one of the best experiences of my life, I met so many talented designers. I find in California there are a lot of inspirational people, so working for Kucoon was the best thing that could have happened at the time, and when the internship was over the designer Andrea Spratt asked me: “do you want to stay?” and I was really tempted to just say yes. At the time I was so determined to start something of my own so I went back to Italy and invested my savings into the creation of our first S/S collection, and this collection for one reason or another was going to be shown here in Glasgow. So, at some point I decided it would be a great idea to move to Scotland altogether because I always had great connections here. I moved here in 2009 and started the company here in 2010 and it just grew from there
How did you come up with the name? What does the name Chouchou mean?
The name came from another trip that I did in South Africa, passing through Paris. The word Chouchou came out and my French friend explained that it’s a term used with a person you love. Chouchou means loved one. Once I was doing a market in Italy and this now famous photographer came up to me and said: “What’s your company name?”, and I said Chouchou and he said to me, “Wow that’s so much fun”, because in Naples when you see a hot girl on the street and you know her name you simply go: “sciu’sciu’!”. (read as Chouchou)
You design a collection of hoods called ‘Hollyhoods’, what was the idea behind them?
At first I could see that people really, really liked them for several reasons, because they are so original and practical. Recently I brought a very exciting change to the company, since the hoods have always been so popular I decided to completely focus on them by creating the first extended range of Hollyhoods.
Who makes the hoods?
I make all of my samples and unique pieces personally. Sometimes when you get somebody else to replicate a one-off of product it might not exactly match your expectations and I always want the products to be excellent. For the big orders, I get fantastic help from Scottish companies. You can really learn a lot from working with these experienced individuals. Especially with the tartans, you cannot mismatch the checks and the fabric it has to be cut in a special way. I definitely learned this here in Scotland working at close contact with experienced workers, I owe them so much. Today each and every Chouchou product is made in Scotland and with that special extra touch.
Where do you source the fabrics?
Part in Scotland: all the tweeds, cashmere, tartans, they all come from here. Silks, cottons and other beautiful unique fabrics I fall in love with each trip are sourced in Italy so I can represent my heritage and my ‘Scottish adoption’. It’s the best quality that I can find and that’s also what I like. My idea was to take a piece that is very streetwear and make it more couture by changing the shape, the fabric used making it more refined. I want it to be more refined. It’s got to be a piece that you are taking great care of, something that makes you look and feel awesome!
Is each piece personal to you?
Definitely! When someone comes to us with a special request for a particular design and we like the final result enough to integrate that piece into a collection it’s always the most successful piece, the one we sell the most and we get most requests for. I often name the design after that particular person as a ‘thank you’ It’s got a different energy and a lot of people connect with that. For me, fashion is about communication. It’s about making somebody feel good about themselves. Fashion helps you to see yourself differently, hopefully accept yourself and the way you look a little more. I love it when people appreciate themselves for what they look like, it’s a fantastic feeling to share.
When you started thinking about the hoods and you chose that as your thing to do, did you think about doing that for women specifically?
Yes. When I started it, it had to be for women as I am one and I love designing pieces I’d wear. The new collection is called Gisela and is inspired by someone that I met. I had started the collection but then I met this person and thought that’s exactly who I had in mind. With women you fall in love with the way someone moves and the spirit of a person, that’s why I always thought it was going to be for women. Also it has got to be something I can wear, I’m always there and if I’m making garments I can try it on and see exactly how it works with the body.
Are you considering starting a menswear line?
Why not! I have never thought about this in the past but recently we just got so much requests for male/unisex hoods from the UK and abroad that we are really excited about this opportunity…watch this space!
So with a menswear line in the pipeline, what else has the future in store for Chouchou?
We are now busy with many new projects actually! One of the most unexpected opportunities came from Italy. I recently met the owner of an Italian company called I Wear Sound and they have a passion for hoodies with integrated headphones. I’ve been approached by them and they’ve asked me if I would to make Hollyhoods with that same concept. I love their idea of the connection between the hood and music. I think it would be a great concept to develop, something different and quite high-tech.