Anne-Sophie, artist and designer
Anne-Sophie Cochevelou is a French fashion and jewellery designer who explores the performative aspect of costume. She lives and works in East London.
“I feel like I have been British in another life”
Tell us about your story as a foreigner
I came to the UK in 2011 to do an MA in Performance Design and Practice at CSM. I studied literature in France but I had the opportunity to come and study here. It was my dream school, people like John Galliano, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen graduated there. I graduated in 2013 and worked as a freelance since. I thought London would be the best place for me because of the mentality, the eccentricity and the creativity. There is something about the British eccentricity that makes me feel comfortable. I really fell in love with the culture and I did my best to integrate myself. I have very few French friends. My boyfriend who is British often says “I have more French friends than you!”
Where is home?
Home is here. That is where I have all my contacts, my network, this is where I get my jobs. I like to pretend I am British, and I am really happy if they don’t find out! I never felt at home in Paris. I didn’t fit because I like to wear bright colors, I don’t have the typical chic Parisian style. I feel like I have been British in another life. I feel like a Londoner, I feel like this is my city. As a designer, I love that people can dress up without being judged here. I like the mentality, the multidisciplinary. I do a bit of costume, I do performance, I do accessories - and no one tries to put me in a box.
Which of the two cultures influences your work the most?
I have a conceptual way of working. I studied philosophy and French philosophers, and I think it has an influence on my work. I am having a kind of a double culture. I understand the British humor, I like the discipline and that mentality where everybody is following the rules, but also eccentric at the same time. People in France are fascinated by what I do because it is unusual. French TV wanted to film me for a show about anti-conformism. But I don’t see myself as an anti-conformist, because I am in the system, I pay my rent, I pay my bills! I have more press in France, but I get more sales in England. Here, it is normal, people dress up, people do performance, it is the norm!
What do you find exciting about living abroad?
Living abroad is like a really long trip. It has to be exciting. You made that decision to leave your family, to speak a language that isn’t your mother tongue, to pay a rent that is way more expensive… so you have to make the most of it. You have to be proactive and make things happen. I feel like I’m always on holidays somehow.
Which words would you associate with the word foreigner?
Exotic, mysterious, unknown. People are scared of foreigners because it is something they don’t know. But you are not scared of the dark, you are scared of what could potentially be in the dark.