Pre-fall tends to be a “choose your own adventure” season for designers. Some like to focus on midsummer travel, others look to spice up their customers’ wardrobes in the early fall months, and many more use preseason as a testing ground for new ideas. For designer Michelle Ochs of Et Ochs, the latter two work best. This season, she found inspiration in upstate New York. Cold autumn nights, bright campfires, and navy night skies provide color to the palette, while its endless outdoor adventure opportunities set the stage for tactical fabrics, trims, and extras.
Practical and sensual are the words that keep coming up in our pre-fall conversations. Sexiness is in her DNA, and while utilitarianism isn’t the term she has in mind for the sheath dresses that have won her a loyal clientele, the tactical details she introduces work perfectly with stretch cady, glossy jersey and powerstretch. Fitted with viscose from the Dominator collection.
Most convincing at the utilitarian angle are the bungee cord details scattered here and there, replacing spaghetti straps and serving as buttonholes or functional drawstrings. They provided a welcome update to the Ochs’ familiar sexy jersey. Cargo pockets, meanwhile, worked best as waist detailing on long black shift gowns and neon jackets.
Popular silhouette experiments included a heavy down vest made from recycled parachute fabric, as well as oversized, angular outerwear and tailoring. Without sacrificing Ochs’ own point of view, stylish goods in parachute fabrics tap into the ubiquitous Gen-Z trend. By contrast, shapewear-like dresses and tops make sense as a fashion commercial statement, but there’s room here for her to further explore the shape and make it her own.
“I try to keep our women dressed as simply as possible,” Oakes said. The idea of pre-shaping has become a recurring theme in pre-fall previews, as designers work to simplify the shopping experience for customers. When it comes to offering simple but directional merchandise, Ochs has the right idea. It may be an adventure her clients are keen to choose.