story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
“We started the company because there wasn’t clothing out there for women who wanted to be sexy without being vulgar.” Sex without vulgarity, no offense guys, is a style better served by the ladies, and perfectly executed by the ladies Cushnie et Ochs, whose Fall 2013 offering put me in mind of the great Gypsy Rose Lee. Ms. Lee – a clever performer whose striptease always kept a giddy, erotic tension between that which was revealed and that which was concealed – defended the dubious ethos of her métier by saying, “ I was never naked. I was completely covered by a blue spotlight!” Cushnie et Ochs has you covered.
Their deft and eye catching dresses, with their lean silhouettes and coy cutouts have garnered the team a deserved and loyal following among fit women who like a bit of growl with their minimalism. Though Fall 2013 steered away at first from this standard by showing an almost sedate run of creamy white wool separates – a fluted skirt, a polo neck mini dress, a silver fox trimmed coat… from there, a few silver sharkskin pieces quickly gave way to their anticipated edgy cut-out frocks done in deep green and black silks both matte and shiny. Stretch leather, calfskinx and fur upped the price point and made clear that while their sexy woman may not be vulgar, she certainly isn’t cheap. And oh the cut-outs… at the neck, at the breast, at the waist, at the rib – even pantsuits had slivers removed at the small of the back. Here and there, volume crept into a trouser or a pouf skirt, but for the most part the shapes were body-con and sinewy – because with Cushnie et Ochs, edgy means sharp edgy.
All told, the show like the clothes was both concise and precise. Though born of two, the vision was clear and single-minded. As their company was established during the current recession, the duo has had to learn to keep overhead down, to keep their mission strong while causing constraints to not hinder but rather inspire them. Cited by Forbes “30 Under 30” and showing strong profits each year, clearly their company is growing and going strong – not to mention dressing everyone from Rihanna to Alicia to Madame First Lady Michelle, whose famous arms and clavicles were recently seen peeking out of some C et O cutouts. Like the strippers who taught Gypsy Rose Lee well once said, “you gotta have a gimmick – if you wanna get ahead!”