Fashion / Style File

Modern, Sexy Women

Design BFFs Jet in from New York to Star at the Heart of Fashion

BY // 11.23.15

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with Cushnie et Ochs. I spotted a teal velvet dress from the label’s fall 2014 collection, and I felt as if my entire world would stop if I failed to track it down (dramatic, I know). Unfortunately, I didn’t snag the dress, but I instantly became a devoted fan.

Last week, the design duo behind the alluring label — Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs (hence the name) — presented their Spring 2016 collection (courtesy of Neiman Marcus) to a Houston crowd at the first annual Heart of Fashion held at Million Air. The pair had a little time to spare before hopping on a flight back to the Big Apple, so I rushed over to Neiman Marcus to speak with them. Here — six questions in six minutes with Cushnie and Ochs.

How did it all begin? 
Michelle Ochs: We met at Parsons, and we shared a very similar aesthetic. After school, we just felt that there was a niche for a modern, sexy woman. Sometimes when you think of modern or minimal you don’t often think sexy, and that really represented what we wanted to do aesthetically. So we started the collection right after school, and that was really the first time we ever worked with each other.

Carly Cushnie: I mean, we were friends while we were in school, but we just hadn’t collaborated on anything design-wise until this.

How would you describe your personal style, and is it reflected in the clothing line?
Michelle and I, in terms of the way we work, we are both very hands-on in the collection. I think sometimes people try to cut us down the middle, so I tend to like more draping and fluidity, whereas she [Michelle] tends to be more structured and tailored. So I think that type of balance has a play in the collection.

Michelle Ochs and Carly Cushnie at the Heart of Fashion.

Neiman Marcus presented your Spring 2016 collection for the opening of the first annual Heart of Fashion. How would you describe the overall theme of the collection?
The overall inspiration for the collection was uptown gangster, so it was this very soft feminine feel juxtaposed with ’90s hip-hop references. If you look back to the [original] show, we unfortunately didn’t have any for the show in Houston, but we used duchess satin bandanas and a lot of overall references.



MO: I think our mood or inspiration is always very big and conceptual, and we have to refine it down to the core elements. You don’t want it to look kitschy, but it definitely has the DNA of the brand and influences in terms of color palette or mood or attitude. So it was really taking her and making her more feminine but then posing that with the fact that she’s just a badass.

How did the partnership with Heart of Fashion come about?
MO: We’ve continue to grow with Neiman Marcus. We’re now in 22 doors, and they are a really great partner. We are also really good partners with BG (Bergdorf Goodman), which is apart of Neiman Marcus Group, and we really wanted to come support some of the stores that were not in our traditional markets, like L.A. or Florida, which kind of get more attention. We see our numbers, and we do have a following in Texas, and we do want to come represent. This was a great opportunity to partner with Neiman Marcus on something [Heart of Fashion] that they believed in as well and show our support. So we are so happy we have a place down here.

One piece every woman should have in her closet? 
MO: I’d say a great little black dress.

CC: Well, you should have multiples of those. I also think just a great black jumpsuit. I feel like that’s the new black dress. It a great fall piece, and it’s something that is totally easy to wear.

First big purchase?
Mine was a Dior bag. It was this beautiful beaded bag. I still have it.

MO: Mine was a baby pink Fendi baguette bag. It matched my hair at one point because I had pink hair., so I thought I was everything.

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