According to her program notes, “sexy” is a word Catherine Holstein “had long reviled.” Not anymore. For her fall Khaite collection, “it was really quite literal,” Holstein said post-show. “I just wanted sexy from my perspective.” To translate that desire into clothes, she considered how and when her concept of sexy crystalized. It was when she moved to New York in 2002. “I lived in the Meatpacking District. It was pre-cell phone and smartphone, so the nights seemed longer because you were engaged with the city and the night.”

And while you rocked a lot of animal patterns, your approach was far from mundane. Now, Holstein’s collection evidenced a young woman coming to terms with the notion of sexy, allowing herself to celebrate it from a position of maturity and self-assurance. More clinically, the theme served dual purposes. It allowed Holstein to expand her fashion quotient while still highlighting those great wardrobe-building items, strong outerwear pieces in particular, that have, in a short period become her signatures. She opened with an oversize scarf-print shirt unbuttoned over tiger-striped tapered pants. Following in quick order came a host of looks that worked: cutout bras, shorts, miniskirts and Victorian blouses inset with sheer yokes, mixed with tailored pieces and an argyle or two. Often, Holstein used her outerwear to elevate the traditional tropes of sexy dressing: sporty-chic suede coat over a black bustier and leopard-spotted coat; military-inspired coat with contrast piping over ruffled blouse, HotPants and over-the-knee boots.

Throughout, the clothes showed considerable work on construction (evening dresses with side cut-outs that formed a heart shape in back) and detailing (a single row of crystals running down the front of a delicate shirred T). Sexy – yes, an intelligent, secure woman’s take on sexy. And these days, isn’t that the best kind?

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