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Interview: Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs for Haute Living

Interview: Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs for Haute Living
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.

In an exclusive interview with Haute Living Magazine, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs of Cushnie & Ochs give insight on designing for the modern woman.

On prepping for their runway show:

“I think that by the time you get to the runway show—unless you’re having some kind of disaster—it’s pretty much smooth sailing,” explains Carly Cushnie. “Some years, we’ve finished things the morning of, and then last season, we were in bed by 10 PM, which very rarely happens. So you never know.”

On the inception of the brand in 2009:

“It just seems like forever ago, but also, not that long ago,” Ochs muses. “We’ve been working with the same team for so long, which is really important for us, so it feels more like family at this point. We all know each other’s schedule and pace, so that makes it a lot easier.”

On the process of designing:

“It’s about making clothes and selling clothes. It’s about approaching everything with the understanding that there’s going to be another collection… and another collection… and another collection” Ochs says.

“We come up with the concept together and then talk about colors, direction, and the overall silhouette we’re thinking, and then we both sketch. Then we go back and forth and see what works and what doesn’t,” adds Cushnie. “If we really can’t decide on something, our sales director is the tie breaker.”

On the inspiration of their pre-fall 2014 collection:

We’re both big fans of Salvador Dalí. It’s a subject that we always wanted to do, and it finally made sense for us,” admits Ochs. “It’s not super, super literal,” Cushnie continues. “There are aspects that we took from his work like the oval eye shape he does over and over again, and the pearls. Some of the colors came from his paintings as well.”

On their consumer:

“She’s confident. She’s global. She’s refined,” explains Ochs. “She wants to look like a woman,” adds Cushnie. “And she likes a lot of black,” quips Ochs.

On their design aesthetic:

“We did crop tops in our first collection,” recalls Ochs. “When we were doing cutouts in the upper abdominal section people were like, ‘Oh, you’re so exposed!’ And we said, ‘Well, not really.’ It’s not really showing any more skin, it’s just showing a different part of skin,” Cushnie clarifies.

“Being sexy was previously just about wearing a short dress,” confesses Cushnie. “But I think you can still be sexy with a longer hemline. If you highlight the body in the right way, you can be sexy even entirely covered up.”

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