One of the great things about going to fashion shows from season to season is keeping your personal tabs on the blossoming up and comers. Sometimes, patience with a new brand is worth it. So it was a special surprise to see the girls of Cushie et Ochs evolving their already razor-sharp vision into something that was still strikingly identifiable with their design lingo, while exploring silhouettes that have remained, until now, untapped in their repertoire.
Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs cited pilgrims and the Salem witch trials as inspiration. The skin-tight witchy provocation has been their bread and butter since they launched, but Puritan modesty? Probably not the slap in the face of their credo you might be thinking. In a week when everyone and their mother have cited “power” as the leading theme of their collection, it was here at CeO where we had to ultimately drag the platitudinous line out of the duo. The makeup really helped to fuel the message. When Aline Weber opened with a sleeveless white dress made of a thick viscose, you could really see how adroitly their respective technical powers mesh. It looked like tough material, even in blinding white, and they added volume – volume! – to their corolla-like skirt, but it stayed aloft, thanks to some diligent, hidden pipe-work.
This was as much an exploration in silhouette as it was in fabrication. Early on there was a knock-out sheath in a grainy herringbone that appeared almost lacquered with a gloss poly film. A chic pencil skirt got the same treatment. That one little garment is equally suitable for ‘work’ or ‘werk’ time. These girls really are the keepers of ‘unique mileage’.
But back to the cuts. If the flounce of that opening skirt was too soon to get the hint of a new direction, then Kate King’s roomie white pants should’ve driven it home. But there was titillation at every turn here, literally. Yulia Kharlapanova came down the runway in a black suit, the jacket with a slight Bar cut, but when she turned the corner, you saw that entire back was exposed. That’s more than just a famous Cushnie et Ochs peekaboo moment. That’s something we haven’t seen before, at least not this week.
The girls also tackled print, using only one example throughout the collection. And indeed it had an inherent pagan quality to it – deep, dark shrubbery lit only slightly incandescent by peekaboos of sunlight. It was a bit Blair Witchy, but they sure got a lot of steam out of it. As a long and languid floor-length skirt matched under a black turtleneck – romantic. As a sheath – practical. As a long-sleeve button-up with the opening look’s imbued skirt to match – kittenish.
But this was by no means a renouncement of their tried-and-true body-hugging numbers either. There were plenty in stock here, the very best on Vika Falileeva; a double-slit forest green sheath with triangle cut-outs on the neckline to create a halter-effect. It was unadulterated va-va-voom, and enough to give the house of Gucci itself a nice run for its money. “Downtown Circe” is what we dubbed that number. As for those cut-outs, which are so identifiable to the brand, they looked like runics. An appropriate analogy, no? This work is a language that, at least in New York, only these can to parse.