“Fit is everything. It’s still about the body,” says Michelle Ochs. This thought process is what the half-Filipino designer cements her foundation on. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)/Vogue Fund finalist recently went solo after an almost decade of collections with her former brand, Cushnie et Ochs.
On her latest digital activation at New York Fashion Week, she presented 21 looks spurred by the constant evolution of women.
Ochs has enthralled giant names in the industry with her designs, including Michelle Obama, Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lopez. Cushnie et Ochs’ solitary take on femininity made them a significant American brand, earning them a reputation for impeccable sartorial fits through body-conscious and hip-hugging pairings that streamline the silhouette.
For her Spring/Summer presentation, she captures the subtleties of a manicured garden.
The result: Open, wavy seams that curl up across the shoulders, sharp cut-outs that instinctively fall below the waist, and a svelte assortment of ruched knitted minis that flatter the wearer’s shape. “We want to celebrate the exquisite transient beauty to be found in all things impermanent. The collection captures the primitive sensitivity and subtle sensuality of flora,” she says.
Her pieces picked up a few herbaceous details. “Seam lines are deliberately twisted and hems stretched to reverberate the organic lettuce curl found in nature,” she shares.
The designer continues: “Rebalancing opposing elements, sensuous ruffles are gathered, stacked, and preserved into pragmatic Japanese denim, while fragile botanical motifs are molded into graphic crystal-encrusted embroidery and carved chrome custom hardware.”
The collection alludes to “an awareness of the mortality of beauty; organic and surprising; spontaneous and restrained. Spring 2023 proposes an instinctive wardrobe that balances sensuality with strength.”
Nurturing the needs
The designer also enjoys pairing contrasting elements like softness and sharpness, sensuality and comfort, and masculinity and femininity.
“I find it very interesting juxtaposing opposites,” Ochs says. “When you strike that balance, it creates something beautiful. Often the most seemingly simple things are often the most difficult to create.”
One thing that makes her stand out is how her clothes drape over the body. Ochs onces again brings up the importance of the fit. “This has been critical to our success and is why we have become known as a red-carpet staple. When something fits just right, you look good and feel good,” she says. “There is an incredible amount of tailoring when it comes to our designs.”
Et Ochs’ new found vision of shape, treatment of color, and precise approach to pattern also give impetus to the designer. “My approach to design is to find new and innovative ways using the body, shape and material to highlight the female form,” she says. “The collection is a constant evolution and strives to be effortless, sexy, and cool.”
Apart from these inspirations, she is also thrilled to see more representation in the industry.
“Representation is growing, it’s important to see ourselves in the work that we do. I am beyond thrilled to see the launch of Vogue Philippines,” she shares. “As a Filipina in the fashion industry, we are not often included in the discussion of ‘Asian’ designers.”
Together with other Filipinos in the scene, she remains optimistic. “As I have built my brand over the last decade and a half, seeing others like Bryan Yambao and Anna Rosa Vitiello gain popularity, it gives me hope for the future,” Ochs says.
Discover more of her designs for Et Ochs at etochs.com.