If Donna Karan, Helmut Lang and Tom Ford were the torchbearers of sensual, feminine, urban style in the ’90s, Khaite’s Catherine Holstein is here to pick up the legacy.
For one thing, the designer knows how to set a runway mood. On Sunday afternoon, from her pitch black, underground, overgrown garden set, beauty sprang in a darkly romantic collection in the black, white and metallic silver of the New York skyline.
“This is about the quintessential New York woman — and being in a city that’s always evolving and rebuilding,” Holstein said backstage. “But I also think people still really want to be treated gently,” she added of the precarious pandemic times.
So the clothes had one foot in the glamour of Roaring ’20s reemergence, and the other in the comfort and softness of familiarity.
Couture-like volume satin coats and organza skirts supported by horsehair layers had a practical romance, as did the coolest hand-sewn silk ribbon harnesses that she likened to textile jewelry, worn over white T-shirts with rolled up sleeves. (Those should sell, sell, sell.) Shimmering swagged gowns inspired by the Marie Nichols-designed chain curtains at the Four Seasons were quintessential New York, while the sexy, shimmering sheer black knit finale gown (worn over a thong, natch) called out for a Hollywood red carpet.
Khaite jeans already have a cult-like following, and the offering of glossy leather bombers, biker jackets, miniskirts and gleaming metallic trenches should expand on the brand’s core classics business. Featherweight nylon coats, which Holstein compared to comforters; long tank dresses; sheer organza skirts, plus hoodies and bra tops for layering, were also easy everyday wardrobing pieces.
There was plenty of newness to fuel her booming accessories business, too, including chic rounded toe, 1940s-inspired low heels, Teva-like sandals and clogs suited to city streets, and a supersized hobo bag. “Because a New York woman always feels like she may need to escape at any moment,” Holstein laughed.