The Interview: Cushnie et Ochs

Cushnie et Ochs

The Goldan Report sits down with the amazing designers behind Cushine et Ochs, Carly and Michelle, at their Neiman Marcus luncheon, the day after showcasing their bold, sexy, chic silhouettes on the runway at Houston’s Heart of Fashion. While I didn’t get a chance to meet up with the beauties the night of the show, I had the luxury of catching up with them the next morning for some girl chat and discuss how the dynamic duo makes it all happen.


   It all began at Parsons School of Design in New York City where the two, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, met their junior year, forming their friendship into business partners after graduation when realizing there was something missing from the type of clothes they’d like to wear. Before launching their collection in 2008, it was all about designers dressing women who lunch, androgynous women or very, very, sexy,  Versace woman. Michelle and Carly felt that being women and dynamic, bringing their experience both to the collection, wanting to feel and look sexy but not overly sexy, they knew there would be a way to combine that and striking that balance with what we see today – Cushnie et Ochs.

A timeless collection, yet modern but at the same time keeping it timeless. Throughout their studies at Parsons, the both of them had always been much attracted to minimalist aesthetic – as you can see in their designs, not very print heavy – but a more feminine minimalist look to celebrate the female body where a woman can feel sexy without all the extras. Sexy, modern, timeless and speaks minimal – so that you can wear anytime, any season or any year – standing the test of time.

From the time they hit the scene their designs have always been impeccably gorgeous with silhouettes that are at the top of the game – I asked the ladies do they ever feel any challenges when reinventing themselves each season.

Michelle ~ We always say, there’s too many thoughts between us. Its great having a partner to be a sounding board so I feel like the flow of ideas is always there. It’s 4 collections out a year so it kind of all rolls in to each other. We really believe in what we do and we do get push backs like its sexy or cutout or you should do more prints. We feel like we really built a core DNA, that you can without us being there – is recognizable.

This season coming up, the latest collection, Spring/Summer resort, the bows, the cutouts and high splits are extremely sexy – making them everyone’s favorites.

Carly ~ The bow for instance, wasn’t necessarily something that we started out thinking about, it falled as the collection. So, it wasn’t like we were sketching and decided – let’s do the bows. The resort previously, we had talked about doing polka dots and we did do polka dots and that was part of the beginning of the collection, whereas the bows came later. It ended up working out and ended up as the most popular details in the collection. You never know whats going to work and what doesn’t.

Wearing their own designs, in most cases, outside of casual attire, you can get a real sense of their own personal style and as women designers, one has to wonder if they’re their biggest customers.

Carly ~ Well, our closet will say so.
Michelle: Biggest houser.
Michelle ~ They’re all your babies. You remember every single thing that you went through for that peace. Everyone has a story. Every dress has a memory. Its so many clothes after one.
Carly ~ Sometimes I feel like, okay – I’ve worn this already and I’ve got so many more dresses coming my way, I can probably get rid of some (they both chimed in on that one) but you really don’t want to. You know,
you become very attached to them. We’re two women coming from two different point of views, we design with women in mind, not necessarily one specific muse. As we are both female designers we’re not male
designers in a sense where we have to imagine this imaginary woman that’s behind our clothes. We are behind our clothes. Those who work for us want to wear the pieces and our family members, our friends,
and our customers, so we always keep those people in mind – it’s for real women.

With a huge celebrity following/clientele, there must be a “WOW” factor when you see your designs on the red carpet.

Michele ~ We find out at the same time everyone else does on Instagram. And since we don’t give our clothes away, we don’t do custom, celebrities have all the options in the world and they choose us – really
says something. A lot of people who have worn our designs, have worn us multiple times, they’re really coming back so that really speaks to the fit. When they’re on the carpet – they need to be comfortable,
they want to feel sexy and they can also wear what they want. It’s a huge compliment every single time. We want to see women in our clothes – we love seeing how they put it together. How one person wears it vs. the other. It’s always amazing to see that.

Are there any favorite designs that you can’t live without?

Michelle ~ You do feel certain ways about certain collections.
Carly ~ Certain pieces you do become attached to that worked out better than you thought and you’re like this is amazing. And before you know it, there’s another collection.
Michelle ~ You’re like this is everything and I love it and then the next season you’re like, no! this is it!
Michelle ~  I like to go back to pieces.
Carly ~ For us, we get a lot of whatever is produced for ourselves, you get a favorite piece from that collection and about time you get a chance to wear it to anything, you’ve got a whole new season of clothes to wear. So, there’s definitely a lot of favorites.

I absolutely love your designs, it’s the high splits, the cutouts, the silhouettes, it’s minimalist and also so sexy.  Outside of being fabulous designers, do you ever get a chance to relax, wind down, favorite pass time?

Michelle ~ You have to find time for yourself, I love cooking. I focus more on cooking. I find it very soothing especially after work to prepare a meal.

You’d probably be a chef outside of designing, huh?

Michelle ~ Chefs run in my family. I think I’m a frustrated chef. My father and my brother are chefs, so I have to keep up my cooking game if I want to stay in the family. LOL!

Carly ~ I definitely love to work out. I love to travel as much as I can to get out and do something a little different, see something a little different as much as possible. I have family in Jamaica – so that’s a nice
little short trip I can do quickly. Its good to get out and get some sun as much as I can.

So, it’s fair to say, Michelle is the homebody and Carly is always on the go. It always takes opposites to attract to make a dynamic duo such as Cushnie et Ochs.

Your love for designing?

Michelle ~ I think finding that balance. You know, when you use to say minimal or modern, you never would of thought sexy. So really the challenge of how do you make that look good? How do you make that look interesting. Often, its the simplest things that are the hardest things to make. People forget that. Especially with cutouts, not enough credit given to it. There’s a lot of construction that goes into it, that structure but being sexy without you falling out of it. The challenge of always trying to find that balance.

Carly ~ There’s always a joy in each season of trying to come up with something new but also stays true to our DNA. It’s embedded in us now after years and years of designing what we do. Always trying to create something new. A customer who has several pieces of ours and she still wants to come back and buy more that still speaks to her in the same way but she doesn’t have it. It’s new and something that she wants.

I’m totally a huge fan of them and their one of a kind collections. In over a 100 stores including Neiman Marcus – you don’t want to miss out on having their designs in your wardrobe!

Neiman Marcus

Cushnie et Ochs



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