The latest American Dream in fashion
Like the store, with its curved metallic showcases and battleship gray walls, the collection was a grand statement of understated sophistication.
What’s special about Catherine Holstein, the founder and creative director of Khaite, is that her clothes all smell of cerebral creative success.
As Californians like to say “literally” when they mean figuratively, Holstein has taken Khaite from nothing to a nearly $100 million revenue brand in just a few short years.
You can see why in this excellent collection of flattering volumes, rich yet novel materials and whimsical accessories.
In no other culture is the position of women as strong as in contemporary New York. The governor of New York State is a woman, while its financial institutions, foundations, media conglomerates, television shows, and art galleries have women in the highest positions of authority. Today, Khaite is her new favorite designer.
In addition to an innate sense of style, Holstein is a brilliant self-editor. Probably the best runway fashion today, anywhere in the world – literally.
For next autumn, Holstein is dressing her ladies in big statement coats – especially in robust, chic leather. Most of them cut wrap style with buttons showing five inches to the left. She loves a power shoulder, but never so much that she overwhelms her owner. Seen in some ideal shearling coats finished with leather piping, detailing or bold contrasting zips.
Catherine’s favorite materials were lambskin or rubberized twill, which even reflected the surrounding neighborhood. Nowadays Soho is full of luxury shops. It was once filled with artist lofts, the nerve center of a generation of American artists who transformed New York into the center of the modern art world. Taking away a position previously held by Paris for over a century.
Holstein’s shearling flannel wide trousers were the best in New York, all held by a minimalist take on the classic western belt. While her lace shoulder, nylon bombers were so well tailored, they would make Miuccia Prada envious.
A pervasive superhero feel, soured by the slight eccentricity of the shearling mules, the studded chic hippie bags and a row of perfectly iridescent clip earrings.
The cast parade lazily to a sly soundtrack that blends Max Richter drama with Lou Reed poetry Northland girl by Bob Dylan in a duet with Johnny Cash.
Holstein’s dark new store was more difficult to interpret. Architect Griffin Frazen’s use of interior walls the size of Richard Serra, albeit with patina, and his somber color palette seemed a little too austere.
Those of us who can remember the Manhattan debuts of hot brands and truly great designers—like Stella McCartney or Lee McQueen—will know that a runway star’s first Manhattan boutique can often be light years away from their later store can model.
That question 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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