The metaverse, NFTs, giant robotic arms with spotlights stalking the runway like alien arachnids at the start of the show — they’re no match for Khaite’s New York woman.
Designer Catherine Holstein, in her jean shirt and khakis, may dress like a ’90s Gap ad, as she joked backstage, but she aspires to be that badass on her runway. And who wouldn’t? Khaite’s brand of dark glamour is becoming potent enough to be an attitude.
“As we design, it’s by piece. It’s not concept-based. It’s more words we were using,” the designer said of the collection. “We wanted everything to be really super stealth and sharp.”
Powerful oversize tailoring, buttery leather work shirts and wide-leg pants, and high-profile, enveloping outerwear all had a sense of nostalgia without feeling like vintage clothing.
Those more masculine pieces contrasted with skinny glossy leather zip-front micro minis, biker dresses and disco fringe of the Studio 54 era. “Even though I’m more a ‘Max’s Kansas City’ because I like a little grit,” Holstein said.
The reality, of course, is that Khaite is growing fast — and into the kind of brand where a lot of different women can find themselves, and buy into the New York attitude that has been exported worldwide by such successful female designers as Diane von Furstenberg and Donna Karan.
Yet there is also something European about Holstein’s look, a bit Saint Laurent in its studied nonchalance. One could imagine Holstein being a candidate to lead a big luxury brand one day.
She went deeper into eveningwear than ever before, showcasing a new level of artistry with crochet knit gowns and sculpted bodice dresses embroidered with a crisscrossing of Swarovski crystals. 1990s nostalgic black slips and goth-y fishtail gowns trailed ruffles, while swagged miniskirts and draped, backless tops marked an evolution of Khaite’s jersey fetish.
The runway was also a showcase for the designer’s expanding world of shoes and accessories, with box-shaped minaudières, negative heels and wedge boots among the covetable pieces.