This pair has interested and confused me for several seasons now. Just when I think I have a fix on them they do something really great or the opposite. I’m constantly off balance and unsure how to call it.
Last year this time I was in the middle of a very interesting offer from a school of higher education. To be honest, it seemed so far out of my experience that I approached it more as an experiment/experience than something I might actually be chosen to do. In the midst of the 4 day obstacle course of meetings, lunches, interviews, demonstrations (on my part) I was given a book, The Little Black Dress, the catalogue of Andre Leon Talley’s hugely successful museum show, and thumbed through it after yet another day of “vetting”. That book was jammed with amazing images of black dresses by a mix of likely and unlikely designers. Cushnie and Ochs were included with a couple of the most astounding dresses in the mix. Andre has an incredible eye to isolate really great design in a sea of mediocrity. As I looked again and again at their work in that book I was struck by their obvious talent and unique point of view. Then today I took a look expecting to see more and found so much less. Confusing.
What moves me about their work is a natural bent towards abstraction. They take familiar shapes and upend them in a way that suggests a real sophistication and understanding of cut and proportion. The clothes for the most part swung from the banal to the obvious. Grommets on evening dresses without the Versace stamp too often tend towards the obvious. Pair that with a dress with ‘cold shoulders’ and car wash fringe and you have a perfect recipe for drive thru fast food. The long evening looks that make ample if uninspired use of silk crepe, charmeuse and chiffon and you get old fashioned lady like looks perfect for the New York Social Diary. Its the raped one shoulder dresses with one fabric and one sliver of a strap holding it all together and you have a look that will stop traffic. There were too little of those and way too many of the other. Knowing the marketplace and all it’s contradictions this should be a commercial success (?).
A few looks in black and white stripes starting with a bikini that looked oddly out of place were interesting plays on graphics. Other dresses that were draped twisted and draped some more felt stale when one considers the freshness of say Donna Karan’s nimble fingers. On a very critical note the styling was off putting. The makeup, hair and jewelry was distracting. The models looked like they came from the imagination of a novice. One can only hold out hope that they will some day settle on a language that is all their own. In the meantime I take more more pleasure in the 2 looks in an old (now) book. In closing I was offered the job…