Charles Chang-Lima - Wearable Glamour
Please write:
Return to Page One
Register here to receive Fashion Finds
email updates!

They call him "the silent killer of the 5th floor" at Barney's New York, because Charles Chang-Lima moves product.  His clothes simply fly off the racks faster than anyone else's.  

And he doesn't do it with trendiness or affiliating with any of the giant European couture houses.  Charles Chang-Lima makes glamorous clothing out of the finest materials, and takes classic design into the practicalities of today's marketplace.

And his personal odyssey has been fascinating.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela of Chinese heritage, the young Charles felt a stranger to the Latin culture.  There were very few Chinese people in Venezuela at the time.

Likewise, Charles felt out of place when his family moved to Taiwan.  He had already seen enough of different cultures to comfortably settle into one, even if it was his homeland.

By his late teens, Charles decided it was time to find a place where he could carve out a lifestyle of his own, and he chose New York.  Charles was interested in architecture, but he wasn't interested in studying to the extent required of an architecture student.  So Charles switched to clothing design.  He was already skilled at drawing, and fashion was a field that intrigued him.

In 1994, Charles began his own label.  Charles told me he established his business determined not to make fun of women.  He set out to give them something new, but Charles says he is not a story teller.  Selling clothes is his goal.

Charles says "Shocking is not interesting.  Beauty is interesting."  He told me "I am not a dictator."  Charles' clothes are for every woman -- "the young, the serious working woman, everyone."

Two primary design influences on Charles' work are Charles James for his sheer brilliance and elegance, and Commes des Garçons for its complete uniqueness and ingenious use of technology.

Charles cites as other influences the New Look of the post-war 1940's and 1950's, introduced by the great French design houses, the Mod look of the 1960's, and the deconstruction of the 1970's.

As you look at Charles' fall collection, you can see elements of each of these periods, subtly incorporated into his work.  The line is called "Back to Basics," because, as Charles puts it, "We've tried everything different in the 1990's, and now it's time to update the classics, and give them timelessness."

Next, more of Charles Chang-Lima's fall collection
Charles Chang-Lima clothing can be
found in Barney's New York
nationwide, Neiman-Marcus selected
stores, Nordstrom's selected stores,
and Maxfield's in LA.

Photographs courtesy of Charles