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Designer Q&A: Cushnie et Ochs

We chat with the design duo Cushnie et Ochs.

If you’re ever in search of a look inspired by Beyonce’s ‘Freakum Dress’ song, any selection from the Cushnie et Ochs line would be it. 

Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, the design duo behind the Womens Ready-to-Wear line have a knack for creating pieces that complement the female form in a sharply tailored way. It is this aesthetic that landed the old Parsons school mates in the top ten finalist selection of this year’s CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund, among many other accolades.

Raised in London, Carly (of Jamaican heritage) adds a European flair, while American-raised Michelle brings the discipline of her military school up-bringing.

Here we catch up with ladies in the midst of their travels to hear all about how they perfect those “attention grabbing” pieces.

Essence.com: Who is the Cushnie et Ochs woman, and where is she headed in these fierce statement pieces?

Cushnie et Ochs:
The Cushnie et Ochs woman is a woman who dresses to look like a woman. She’s strong and sexy and wants clothes that complement her sleek style that she can continue to wear season after. The collection is a full wardrobe to cover her from day to night. But our special cocktail dresses are definitely attention grabbing at any event/party.
Essence.com: You’ve been pretty masterful at highlighting the female form through use of negative space and strategically placed fabric, what’s the story behind that?

When we design the female body is always the main focus. We are women designing for women so understanding and highlighting the body in the most flattering way is extremely important to us.
Essence.com: What was the experience like being apart of the top ten finalists for the 2011 CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund?

CEO: Being a part of the CFDA/Vogue ten this year was the most amazing experience. We were so thrilled to have been nominated and the exposure from the whole process has just been incredible.

Essence.com: What is your style like, individually?

Michelle Ochs – My style tends to be gangster minimal chic.
Carlie Cushnie – Michelle and I tend to be quite similar but I would say I’m more eclectic minimal.
Essence.com: How do you manage to compromise and merge both of your personal styles into your designs?

CEO: We’ve always had a very similar aesthetic so designing together has never been much of a challenge. Being such good friends and having similar interests makes it quite easy.
Essence.com: What is the most coveted item in your closets?

Michelle Ochs –  Our new black fox fur coat from our fw11 collection.
Carlie Cushnie – Our pearl and gold beaded shorts from our ss11 collection are so special, I love them.
Essence: What is the one boutique you walk into and cannot leave without making a purchase?

CEO: Bergdorf Goodman is such a chic and glamorous store. You feel like you’re in another world when you step inside. Its always a fun place to shop.

Treat yourself to something sexy at www.cushnieetochs.com