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August 22 2014

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Cushnie et ochs get their freak on

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First, to assuage the curious: The song soundtracking the Cushnie et Ochs debut show at the Chelsea Arts Tower yesterday was “I Need a Freak” by Sexual Harassment, and it was released in 1982, and if the synths seemed familiar, that’s because the Black Eyed Peas copped a feel off that hook for their rather lesser tune “My Humps.” “I Need a Freak” was a hot topic of conversation after Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs took their bows, but it wouldn’t have made so much of impression on the crowd had the song not been so eerily suited to the clothes. Body-hugging sheaths with winking cutouts and sheer tops with opaque inserts like censor’s strips conjured a woman with some perverse sexual authority, and gave credit to Cushnie and Ochs’ stated American Psycho inspiration. The designers deserve their next-big-thing reputation. But a question lingered in the mind, as the models sashayed down the runway: Can girls actually wear this stuff? “We wear it,” said Ochs, and indeed, both of the (enviably slender and long-limbed) designers were kitted out in pieces from the collection. “It’s not like we design with ourselves in mind,” elaborated Cushnie. “But we know what we want to reveal, and what we want to keep secret.” “The fun,” added Ochs, “is playing with that.” For the record, the girls are in no way freakish, except perhaps freakishly in tune with each other. Both of the recent Parsons grads attested to the fact that, despite never working on a student project together, they always sensed they’d make a natural marriage as designers. “We share a pretty specific sensibility,” explained Ochs. Or to put it another way: Freaks or not, these two need each other.

Photo: Dan Lecca

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