Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs formed Cushnie et Ochs right after graduating from Parsons School of Design. The London-born Carly previously interned at Donna Karan, Proenza Schouler, and Oscar de la Renta, while Michelle trained at Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi and Chado Ralph Rucci. Since launching with the spring 2009 collection, they have become finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
How do you guys play off each other? What strengths do you each bring to the table?
CC: We’ve always had a very similar aesthetic since we were in school, so working together is very fluid and organic.
MO: Creatively speaking, Carly tends to be more drapey and I tend to be more tailored, but it’s very much a back-and-forth.
Who is the Cushnie et Ochs girl? Are there pieces that can be worn by someone that is not used to revealing their figure?
MO: The Cushnie et Ochs customer is a very strong woman. It’s not so much about revealing the body but about feeling confident in your own skin and exuding that through your clothes.
CC: The collection is for woman who wants to look like a woman in a way that is sophisticated, sexy and sleek.
How has the line changed since your launch in 2009?
CC: The line has definitely grown considerably since the launch with our Spring/Summer 2009 collection. The line now offers more separates and knitwear.
MO: We also do four seasons a year now, with full resort and pre-fall collections.
What advice do you have for other emerging designers?
CC: Stay true to your own vision and strengths.
MO: Regardless of demand, never take on more than you can handle.
Cushnie et Ochs launched right out of school. Would you advise others to do the same?
MO: We had gained a great deal of experience from our internships and felt ready to start something on our own when we graduated.
CC: Starting right out of school is not the right thing for everyone. As designing is such a small portion of running a business, you need to be prepared and willing to do absolutely everything for your company and have great understanding of the business and the market.
Where do you see the line in five years? Is there a future for accessories?
CC: We definitely plan to expand into accessory lines in the future to really complete the wardrobe for our customer and build a strong luxury business over the next five years.
What are you wearing when you are not wearing Cushnie et Ochs?
MO: We are pretty much always wearing our collection. We mix it up with denim and other pieces but almost always in our clothes.