Michelle Ochs’s first collection for Hervé Léger just hit stores this week. So far the designer has been working with feedback from buyers and editors, but she’s about to find out if her clothes resonate with people outside of the bubble. Until now it’s been about testing the waters, primarily focusing on reinvigorating the Léger bandage dress language and looking into where she can expand her assortment in a way that doesn’t turn her existing customer off. It’s a tall order, but so far, so good.
“We don’t really know what’s going to work yet,” said Ochs at a preview, “I’m trying a lot of different things, but overall, for me, it’s a reset.” The first pain point Ochs addressed here was how to make the label’s va-va-voom language relevant today. Sure, sex still sells, but millennials and Gen Z like a little nuance—be that by way of oddness or subtlety—to pair with their sexy. What Ochs did here, she said, was to “subdue her a little.” The bodycon remains, but the allure was more low-key and less gratuitous. “We’re scaling back some of the bandaging but keeping the material,” the designer explained. This is a customer that understands stretch, after all, and the advent of SKIMS has made the word no longer a dirty one.
For fall, Ochs employed the bandage knit in a series of dresses accentuated with fringe hems or draped silky bust details. A burgundy frock with metallic hoops placed at the bust and navel and a long-sleeved teal maxi dress with a draped criss-cross hip detail and fringe hem felt on-brand while still directional and modern. Ochs and team styled a run of simple knit turtlenecks under some of the sexier styles, giving the bandage a more sophisticated point of view. And while some pieces, like a floor-length gown with cascading silk strips placed over sheer mesh, could get a little gimmicky, one has to commend Ochs’s appetite for drawing outside the lines (but still with the lines). One thing that had significant potential to pay off was considering the language of the bandage as not just identifiably design but branding. (She cut a few silky button downs with bandage strips running down the center back that did not make the lookbook.)
In the spirit of thinking outside the box, Ochs played with a couple of different fabrications beyond the Léger knit. “We’re starting to get a little away from the body in a way that [the customer] could understand,” said the designer, outlining her intentions. Draped velvet separates and plushy knitted sequin dresses (surprisingly soft, by the way) were the furthest Ochs ventured out to in terms of texture, and while these propositions were compelling, it was in the way she applied the bandage dress style lines onto leather pieces that made the biggest impact.
Ochs’s take on Léger is more cerebral and highbrow than that of her predecessors—see the Yves Klein-esque body paint rubber placement on one of her bandage styles. It may alienate a core customer or two, but that’s also why it might just work.