There’s no denying it: Cushnie et Ochs is taking the fashion world by storm. The power-commanding line, created in 2008 by Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, has sent looks often enigmatic in their simplicity down the runway during New York Fashion Week for several seasons now. To the tune of praise from the likes of Vogue and Marie Claire, catwalk enthusiasts around the globe are beginning to recognize a major new fashion house to be reckoned with. We caught up with Carly Cushnie to discuss the line’s roots, its favorite kind of woman, and the Spring 2013 collection.
KF: Tell us how you got together and decided to start designing.
CC: Michelle and I both went to Parsons here in New York, where we met our junior year. We just had a really similar aesthetic, so after we graduated in 2007, we started the line in 2008.
KF: You were involved in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. What was that like? Do you credit it for helping to push you into the limelight?
CC: Absolutely. Being a part of the fund really propelled us forward and gave us much broader exposure. It was great to meet other members and mentors. We got to meet designers all going through the same dilemmas as us – the fund really creates a sense of community.
KF: Your Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear collection is absolutely beautiful. What is the process of designing a collection like?
CC: We start, generally, with a concept we’ve both seen: a movie, an exhibition, something we’ve seen while travelling. Then we decide on colors and start the sketching process. We really never stop sketching – we keep doing it as the collection evolves. It’s a very organic process. We do a lot more than we need to, and then edit everything down.
KF: What is your inspiration for your line, specifically for the spring show?
CC: Well, Michelle is half-Filipino, and her mom dug up some of these dresses. It really sprung up from there. It’s all about beach and surf culture. We had lots of structured shoulders, mixed sheers, embroidery, and tone-on-tone prints. But our looks are always clean and sexy, and they’re always about women. They highlight the female body and make a woman feel confident and strong. Our pieces stand out but are always something stylish to come back to in a woman’s closet.
KF: The show was predominantly filled with whites, blacks, and two shades of blue. What drew you to these hues?
CC: We were very interested in sea vibes: sea foam, the blues and violets of the dark sea, the skyscape at night at the beach.
KF: What is it like working as a team? How do you balance the work and collaborate creatively?
CC: Our work ethic is very organic, very back-and-forth. There’s always a constant dialogue, since we’re best friends first, and then designers. Actually running the business is the only thing we have to split in half; as an artistic team, there’s never a lack of ideas. Together we can really edit things down – we’re two women making clothes about women for women.
KF: What type of woman do you envision wearing your clothes?
CC: There’s definitely a large age range that could wear our clothes, and it’s all about the woman that wants look sexy but not vulgar – a refined kind of sexy. She’s elegant and secure and can always rely on these looks.
KF: What does the future look like for Cushnie et Ochs?
CC: We’re going to expand our distribution. We’re now in Saks and Neimann-Marcus and only want to go further. We just really want to give women a wide range of options.