Buyers, who trekked west to see the Atelier Caito for Hervé Pierre collection this week, also got a glimpse of one well-aligned apartment in the Soori High Line. Soo Chan’s SCDA architectural firm created the 11-story, West 29th Street residential building. The space’s floor-to-ceiling windows, Augsburg oak-paneled walls, discrete one-lane swimming pool and spare sunlit terrace shared a similar linear sense to the label’s sophomore collection. “It makes sense. My customer would live here,” Pierre said matter-of-factly.
Chan agreed, offering the yet-to-be rented pad to the designer. Geared for bankers, Wall Street executives and other on-the-move women, the label may not be overly enticing for editorial spreads, but it is a winner with stores. Unable to keep up with demand, the duo and had to cap sales last season. Caito’s wife, Camille, is also involved with the business. Later this month, the team will fly to Paris to show the collection to customers from the Middle East, Russia, Kazakhstan and London.
A long-sleeve red dress with a tubular knot at the neckline and another at the waist was created with Pierre’s former boss Carolina Herrera. The designer had advised him “to add a touch of red to his next collection.” Borrowing an accent, he first learned interning at Christian Dior in the Marc Bohan days, all of the dresses are lined in ivory silk or nude silk — a practice that was also embraced when he later worked at Balmain. “When you have this on your skin, you have the feeling of lingerie, but it’s not obvious. At the end of the day, you have a woman with a black AmEx who is going to spend money, and we must not forget that.”
Caito has his own designer pedigree, having trained with Francois Bouchet at Lanvin and later with Martin Margiela at Hermès. After a three-year run with Olivier Theyskens at Rochas, he started his New York atelier 12 years ago, accommodating Proenza Schouler, Francisco Costa, Jason Wu and Derek Lam among others. Pierre said, “This is a hand that doesn’t really exist any more.”
With sizing up to at least 16, Atelier Caito for Hervé Pierre offers all sorts of body-conscious touches such as a sack dress with a grosgrain neckline for women who don’t want to share their waists, a two-piece pale-pink dress with an overlay for more ample shoppers and a V-neck wool crepe dress with a scarf that can be removed or tucked inside to shield cleavage. Similar to the understated apartment, the collection of dresses has such hidden details as Princess seams on the back. “It’s a little 18th century but it’s also more flattering even for a woman who may not be a stick,” Pierre said.
In his role as a stylist for First Lady Melania Trump, Pierre does his share of in-store shopping “so I see the products, quality, price, delivery, style and what is missing in the market. It’s fabulous actually. It’s not a matter of copying but to understand the market.” (He was not interested in discussing Trump, who made her first official public appearance in several weeks Wednesday. But he showed no sign of concern.)
Bergdorf Goodman had the exclusive for the launch, and Moda Operandi secured trunk shows, but others like Julian Gold gave it a gander earlier this week. The daytime and evening dresses retail for under $2,000. To ensure that customers are completely secure in their dresses, they zip up the back. And the vertical rows of buttons on select dresses such as a tuxedo look are primarily aesthetic accents, with only one or two actually working, in order to avoid bulges, when seated. Instead of catering to 25- to 35-year-old independents, as most designers do, Atelier Caito for Hervé Pierre is meant for more discerning shoppers.
“A lot of designers are moving away from this core. For me, this is an open door for a business that may not be as exciting as crazy ready-to-wear in a fashion show, but we are trying to answer a need,” Pierre said. “We didn’t have one dead horse from the last collection, because all of them make sense.”