RUNWAY REVIEW: Cushnie et Ochs SS14

On Friday afternoon, as “Copycut” by Skream and Kelis purred, Cushnie et Ochs revealed their Spring 2014 collection to a lively crowd that included Natalia Kills and Chelsea Leyland. At the moment, few designers are on a faster upward trajectory. Known for angular cutouts, sheer windows and slender silhouettes, the striking pair of Parsons grads was nominated for a
CFDA Award for the first time earlier this year. Even the First Lady has taken notice (Michelle Obama opted for a custom silk-crepe dress).

While Cushnie et Ochs’ Resort 2013 collection sported tropical island themes and itty-bitty bikinis (a sensible course that was built upon again today with the introduction of three more), this season dove back towards their customary darker direction. Exploring design elements cribbed from straightjackets, designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs integrated belts and restraints throughout. Fortunately, no time was spent in mental institutions. “Straightjackets weren’t readily available to us,” said Ochs, after the show. “Without the history of it, it’s more of a visual thing.” It wasn’t the first time they’ve let the freak flag fly: Previous collections have mined the Salem Witch Trials and American Psycho for inspiration. “Our inspirations are normally quite dark,” said Cushnie.

As usual, the latest Cushnie et Ochs collection emphasized crisp lines, body-con fitting and exposed geometric shapes of flesh. With a color palette limited to white, black, gray and a regal purple, all attention was drawn towards revealing angular sections on the shoulders, sides and chest. Those straightjacket bindings materialized as a trio of buckled cross-torso straps on a gray pencil dress. One of the few pieces that offered a departure from stark monochromatics was the T-strap dress with a doodle-print that looked a bit like cartographical etching.

Sadly, none of the new swimsuits could be used at the after party, held further downtown at the James Hotel. “We want to go for a swim, but it’s cold out!” said Cushnie.

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