Pre-fall tends to be a “choose your own adventure” season for designers. Some like to focus on high-summer travel, others look to prop up their customers’ wardrobes for the early fall months, while still more use the pre-season as a testing ground for new ideas. For Et Ochs designer Michelle Ochs, the latter two apply best. This season, she found inspiration in Upstate New York. Its chilly autumn evenings, bright bonfires, and navy nighttime skies informed the color palette, while its endless opportunities for outdoor adventures set the stage for tactical fabrics, trims, and extras.
Utilitarian and sensual were the words that kept coming up in our pre-fall conversation. Sexy comes innately to her, and although utilitarian isn’t the term that comes to mind for the slinky dresses that have earned her a loyal customer base, the tactical details she introduced meshed surprisingly well with the stretch cady, gloss jersey, and power stretch viscose that dominated the collection.
The utility angle was most convincing in the bungee details scattered here and there, replacing spaghetti straps, and used as button holes or as functional drawstrings. They provided a welcome update to Ochs’s familiar sexy jersey pieces. Cargo pockets, meanwhile, worked best as waist details on a long black column gown and a neon jacket.
Welcome silhouette experiments included a hefty puffer vest made out of recycled parachute fabric, and broad, sharply shouldered outerwear and tailoring. Sleek cargos in that parachute fabric tapped into the pervasive Gen-Z trend without sacrificing Ochs’s own point of view. In contrast, a shapewear-like dress and top made sense as a trendy commercial talkback, but there was room here for her to explore the shape further and make it her own.
“I try to make dressing as simple as possible for our woman,” Ochs said. The idea of pre-styling has become a recurring theme at pre-fall previews, as designers work to simplify the shopping experience for their customers. Ochs has the right idea when it comes to offering easy but directional items. This might be an adventure her customers are keen to choose.