“It’s been a total whirlwind,” share Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, as they reflect on their ten year anniversary (officially next February) as the names behind the label Cushnie et Ochs. “The company has certainly had its ups and downs (including starting at the height of the recession) but we’ve always managed to learn and grow from the process – professionally and personally.”
The British and American designers, respectively, pride themselves on a decade of sharing a vision, “you are only as good as the sum of your parts,” Ochs explains. And it’s this shared vision which has seen their sophisticated designs ‘for women, by women’ worn by some of the most powerful women in the world: from Michelle Obama (a wearer the duo are particularly proud of), to Ashley Graham and Mary J. Blige. It’s also the same sophistication that saw them as the winners of the Ecco Domani award in 2009, and finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2011.
For the design duo’s Pre-Fall collection they did what they do best, and looked to the world of art. “We pulled inspiration from several artists this season, the main one being Henri Matisse. His use of colour line work and his cut out series really inspired so many elements of this collection – from the graphic print, custom embellishments and hardware, to layering techniques and colour-blocking in both ready-to-wear and accessories,” the pair explain.
To showcase their creations, Dazed favourite Lillie Eiger shot it on the streets in Brooklyn. The images see model Ines Lopez dressed in the collection – that reimagines the meeting of masculine and feminine – around various locations in the busy city. Taking Matisse’s lead in cutting freely, cutouts and fringing are at the centre of this season. Textures, from chiffon to silk to beaded fabric, overlay each other harmoniously.
The pair also looked at artists Richard Serra and Sol LeWitt, referencing the architectural elements of Serra’s work in the silhouettes, and the varied fine lines found across LeWitt’s drawing ‘instructions vs. random’. Continuing this clash into colour, the collection is born from the mixture of camels and light greys with primary colours like magenta, cobalt blue, and mustard yellow.
The pair are very candid about the challenges they’ve faced in maintaining, and expanding, a brand over the last decade – “everything from cashflow problems to natural disasters; there was once a hurricane right before fashion week and we all had to sleep in the office to finish the collection in time for the show.” They have never let any problems stop them from continuing on though. “We’re excited for this next chapter, and to see our brand grow in ways we couldn't imagine,” Ochs finishes. Any final words of wisdom for those looking to follow in their footsteps? “Take advice but remain true to your vision,” says Cushnie, “and don’t be afraid to ask for help, you may be surprised by how many people are willing.”
Hair Blake Erik, make-up Igneborg, model Ines @ Muse NYC