Khaite: The latest American Dream in fashion
Like the store with its curvy metallic display units and battleship gray walls, the collection was a great statement of understated sophistication.
The thing about Catherine Holstein, the founder and creative director of Khaite, is that her clothes all manage to reek of cerebral creative success.
Appearing as the Californians like to say “literally” when they mean figuratively, out of nowhere, Holstein has built Khaite into a brand with sales approaching $100 million in a few quick years.
You could see why from this excellent collection with its flattering sense of volume, noble yet novel materials and quirky accessories.
Arguably in no other culture is the position of women so powerful as in contemporary New York. The governor of New York state is a woman, while its financial institutions, foundations, media conglomerates, TV shows and art galleries have women in the highest positions of authority. Today, Khaite has become their new designer of choice.
Besides having an innate sense of style, Holstein is a brilliant self-editor. Probably the best in runway fashion today, anywhere on the planet – literally.
For next fall, Holstein is dressing her ladies in big statement coats – notably in tough chic leather. Most of them cut wrap style, with the buttons displayed five inches to the left. She loves a power shoulder, but never so much as to over-power its owner. Seen in some ideal shearling coats finished with leather piping, detailing or bold contrast zips.
Catherine’s favorite materials were lambskin or rubberized twill, which even echoed the surrounding neighbourhood. These days Soho is full of luxury stores. Once it was packed with artists’ lofts, as the nerve centre of a generation of American artists who transformed New York into the centre of the modern artistic world. Taking away a position Paris had previously held for over a century.
Holstein’s wide pants in flannel of shearling were the best in New York, all held up by a minimalist take on the classic western belt. While her peak shoulder, nylon bombers were so well cut, they would make Miuccia Prada envious.
A sense throughout of the super heroine, leavened by the faint eccentricity of the shearling mules, studded posh hippie totes and a series of perfectly dazzling ear clips.
The cast parading languidly to a cunning soundtrack that blended the drama of Max Richter, poetry of Lou Reed and Girl from North Country by Bob Dylan in a duet with Johnny Cash.
Holstein’s dark new store was harder to interpret. Architect Griffin Frazen's use of Richard Serra size interior walls, albeit with a patina, and his sombre color palette looked a tad too stern.
Those of us who can remember the debut stores in Manhattan of happening brands and truly great designers – like, say, Stella McCartney or Lee McQueen, will know that the first Manhattan boutique of a runway star can often be light years different from their eventual store model.
That query aside, this show, collection and artistic statement was a welcome reminder of the great creativity of New York and its designers’ ultimate goal – the celebration of women’s greater freedom and empowerment in modern society.
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