Here’s the picture of what’s fashion like this New York Fashion Week: it’s either an over-the-top fantasy (Area) or a pragmatic, down-to-earth look at the re-emergence wardrobe (Proenza Schouler). Khaite is rather in the latter camp, but not entirely. Launched in 2016 as a resource for classic essentials, the ethos of the brand hasn’t changed: it’s still constructed on a foundation of cashmere sweaters, leather, denim, and tailoring. But Cate Holstein shakes up that properness lately. Last season, she dimmed the lights almost to black; for autumn-winter 2022, she channeled the glam and grit of pre-Bloomberg New York, with Kurt Cobain wailing “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” on the soundtrack. Khaite is getting edgier than it was in its early days. “It’s our most New York show,” Holstein said, “the most industrial,” and she pointed out that the freight elevator from that scene in Fatal Attraction was down the block from the show venue. Holstein built this collection with the outerwear as a priority. It started with a zip-front leather jacket, with an exaggerated collar and full sleeves. Much more leather followed: an aviator, a trench, double-breasted blazers, snap-front work shirts, and a Perfecto like Emmanuelle Seigner’s in Frantic, a movie Holstein quoted backstage. Jackets and coats sorted, the Khaite customer will need a mini for autumn. Khaite’s are shapely— – igh waisted and neatly belted, with a zip all the way down the front. Should she require a dress, she might fancy an off-the-shoulder number traced in a harlequin of Swarovski crystals, a fully fringed cocktail number that took three weeks of work to complete, or the crocheted column studded with crystals that was the collection’s showpiece. As sexy as the vibe was, Holstein achieved it without the towering spike heels we’ve seen turning up elsewhere this week. The post-pandemic stiletto comeback isn’t anywhere in sight. Holstein gets that – another notch in her favor.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.