Khaite: Eighties excess, contemporary success
One of New York’s hottest fashion brands today is Khaite, and one could fully comprehend why after attending its powerful, punchy and precisely Southwestern collection staged in Meatpacking District on a wet Sunday.
Khaite apparently stands for both designer Cate Holstein’s nickname and the Greek term meaning long flowing hair, and the hair certainly flowed in this show, from bedroom curls to bedraggled femme fatale spirals.
Holstein’s jump off point was Wild at Heart and Lost Highway, David Lynch’s uber darkly surrealist road movies.
“I feel like everyone is constantly talking about are we ever going to get past the point of starting over? You rarely get that in life, the last time was probably after WW2,” explained the founder and designer, who speaks in an almost machine gun like stream of consciousness.
Hence, she showed lots of Nicholas Cage worthy python skin, made into crisp rocker jackets or elongated blazers in embossed calfskin, printed on washed cupro, and even seen on jacquard-stitched viscose knitwear. Cage even crooned on the late 80s soundtrack.
Holstein can cut like a great tailor - with sharp shoulders and grand lapels - or drape with gusto, dressing her cast in oversized double breasted satin jackets or tough chic leather bombers paired with brilliant slung leather sarong skirts.
Multiple fringes and crystal finishes suggested a Las Vegas show gal travelling with confidence, and an intense air of seduction.
“There’s a heavy sinister influence that I like, but for us it’s always going to be about dressing a woman and not making a collection. We don’t really make collections. This is a continuation of our woman. Who will always be the New York woman, a strong, sharp independent figure always on a journey, always trying to find themselves,” she added.
The Lynchian reference apparent in the leather looks delineated by large format zippers, often functional and others integrated as surreal stripes. All recalling Patricia Arquette at her steamiest.
Plus, Holstein showed a clever take, Khaite’s Olivia bag presented as a clutch, in a strong silhouette and made in vinyl, crystal and patent leather.
There is nothing terribly revolutionary about Khaite, but the whole collection just seems very, very now. Edgy luxury that the models clearly loved wearing, as will Khaite's customers. Staged inside a gallery on Little West 12th Street in the Meatpacking district, the space was crammed with buyers. All of them were smiling at the finale - their eyes bright at the thought of the sell-through.
Cate Holstein does not plan to tweak this collection, which all goes straight into retail. She doesn’t have to because it’s all extremely wearable, aided by being cut with just enough volume.
In a word, Khaite's is the most cleverly focused collection in America today.
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