Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Quick Chat: CNN's Alina Cho on Fashion Week, comfortable heels and election style

By Dan Macsai, TIME.com
updated 2:36 PM EDT, Fri September 7, 2012
Alina Cho.
Alina Cho.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alina Cho is most impressed by fashion heavyweight Karl Lagerfeld.
  • Cho calls Michelle Obama's style "fashionable" and Ann Romney's "conservative".
  • Fit is important for Cho on camera -- she favors dresses, 3/4 sleeve cardigans and belts.

(TIME.com) -- "My goal is to not alienate Anna Wintour -- and also bring in viewers in Peoria," says Alina Cho, host of CNN's Fashion: Backstage Pass (airing Sept. 15 at 2:30 p.m. E.T.), on which she has interviewed Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace and more. Here, the fashionista (who profiles designer Bibhu Mohapatra in TIME Style & Design, available at time.com/style) lets loose with us.

TIME: Of all the fashion heavyweights you've talked to, who surprised you the most?

Cho: Karl Lagerfeld. I was just interviewing him in Paris, and I asked him, "After all these years, how you still can look at a dress and see that it needs to be a millimeter longer?" And he said, "Well I'm not blind yet!" He's very quick, he's very funny, and I think you have to be very smart to be funny.

TIME: But he's not exactly a CNN staple. How do you tailor your fashion coverage to viewers who are more accustomed to hard news?

Cho: In order to tell great stories, you need great characters. It doesn't matter whether you're covering the political race or the aftermath of a hurricane or fashion. So my approach has always been to be more character-driven than collection-driven. And there's no shortage of characters in fashion!

TIME: Like Karl?

Cho: Right, like Karl. The other thing I try to do, and I think this is really important, is make my fashion coverage accessible. People always say, "Oh, you're the new Elsa Klensch!" But I think the show that she did [CNN's Style With Elsa Klensch, which ran from 1980 to 2000] and the show that I do are very different, because we live in a different world. My fashion coverage has to be both aspirational and accessible.

TIME: You've reported extensively on politics. Why do you think people are so interested in what candidates and their spouses are wearing?

Cho: It just gives us another thing to talk about. And I think in many ways, Michelle Obama changed the game. She came onto the scene wearing Tom Ford one day and J. Crew the next. There's something appealing about that, no matter your politics. I know it's exciting for me to watch. She's incredibly fashionable.

TIME: What do you make of Ann Romney's outfits?

Cho: I think she plays it a little bit more conservative. Maybe that has something to do with her politics. I'll leave it at that.

TIME: How do you dress well for TV?

Cho: You know what they say -- the camera adds 10 pounds. So fit is incredibly important. I tend to favor dresses. I tend to favor three-quarter sleeve cardigans and a little belt, but I like to say I don't own many pants. I like the ease of a dress. You zip it up and you go. It's pretty simple. So as long as it fits great, I'm in.

TIME: You travel to so many fashion shows for work. What's your go-to comfort heel?

Cho: My go-to comfort heel is a flat.

TIME: Touché!

Cho: No, but really, I change between shows. Every female New Yorker can relate to that. Nobody wants to walk around in a high-heeled shoe! I'll carry my beautiful high heels in a bag.

TIME: Smart. I've seen people do that on the subway.

Cho: It's something my mother told me a long time ago. I'm just now starting to listen!

Alina Cho is a national correspondent for CNN and host of Fashion: Backstage Pass. Fashion: Backstage Pass with Alina Cho debuts on Sept. 15 at 2:30pm E.T. on CNN US.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:24 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
Natalie Westling, 17, is embarking on a global fashion career, but she'd sometimes rather be skateboarding.
updated 2:17 PM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
During the fall collections shown at New York Fashion Week, cozy knits, heritage fabrics and menswear-inspired suits and shoes led the way.
updated 12:13 PM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
CNN Living is on the scene as designers showcase their fall 2014 collections at New York Fashion Week.
updated 11:40 AM EST, Wed February 19, 2014
While there's plenty of action on the runways, there's plenty going on backstage as well.
updated 2:14 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
From pastels to jewel tones, New York Fashion Week is packed with color. See some of the runway's most vibrant looks.
updated 10:29 AM EST, Thu February 6, 2014
Carmen Carrera wants to be known as a great model -- not only a transgender model. But will the fashion world welcome her with open arms?
updated 9:43 AM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Revered forecaster Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted six more weeks of winter, but the fashion world is looking to another season: fall.
updated 8:15 AM EST, Tue November 26, 2013
Shaun Ross, who lives with albinism, and other unique-looking runway models are challenging notions of beauty during New York Fashion Week.
updated 10:10 AM EST, Wed December 11, 2013
Filipino blogger Bryan Boy and Italian stylist Anna Dello Russo on how blogging is changing the fashion industry.
updated 5:11 PM EDT, Mon September 9, 2013
Celebs have long been wearing slips, corsets and bustiers outside the bedroom, from Elizabeth Taylor to Lady Gaga. But it's more common on the street now, too.
A typical day for a fashion model lasts 12 hours, with no breaks for food. We follow Petra Vujevic for a day.
updated 7:33 AM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
Czech supermodel Eva Herzigova and Hong Kong couturier Barney Cheng on daring to stand out and not following the pack.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT