It’s quite incredible that Khaite, a relatively young and small brand, has such distinct signatures and a loyal clientele. I bet many, much older and famous labels dream of credentials Cate Holstein‘s brand can boast with. The pre-fall 2021 collection sums up Khaite’s biggest hits and classics, but it didn’t lack novelty. With a basic QR code, you can beam Lia Pavlova into your living room. It takes a minute to get the hang of “placing her” in the space, but then she’s walking, posing, and giving you multiple angles of Khaite’s new collection. The augmented reality experience is an evolution of the one Catherine Holstein launched for spring 2021, which included only shoes; now we’re getting the full look, and it’s surprisingly realistic. What makes this particular AR experiment successful is that most of these clothes will, in fact, look right at home in your apartment. Holstein is an intuitive and product-oriented designer who cares about how her clothes are worn and lived in, not just how they look on a catwalk or in a moody video. For the new season, she was especially focused on comfort, practicality, and ease – “nothing frivolous,” she said. Floor-sweeping hemlines felt excessive, so there were boxy peacoats and ’60s-ish miniskirts instead. The stronger, tougher feeling of spring 2021 carried through in the combat boots and patent over-the-knee styles, shown here with voluminous evening tops, cozy knit dresses, and narrow jeans. Even her signature bubble dresses felt casualized and couch-friendly, whipped up in crinkled viscose and styled on Sasha Pivovarova with a shrunken blazer, black tights, and no jewelry. Holstein said she wasn’t really thinking about the quite abstract “re-emerging” many designers are talking about lately; she prefers to design for the moment she’s living in, not for some hazy future. Still, she hopes her clients will likely be in the mood to dress up, but with items that feel comforting and sensitive to the year we just endured. You’ll notice there are exactly zero stilettos for pre-fall, and little in the way of flashy embellishments. The androgynous, hardware-free leather and suede jackets and flat knee-high boots – including a pair in burnished gold – will offer a just-right balance of excitement and ease in 2021.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.