Sharp Power. Khaite AW23

A lot is happening in Catherine Holstein‘s life. First Khaite store is opening at 165 Mercer Street later this week after a year in the making, and 10 more are planned for the next five years. Next month, her first child is due. And her autumn-winter 2023 collection, presented during New York Fashion Week, is one of her best seasons yet. “We always talk about strength and stealth, but this is about power. That’s all we kept saying: ‘sharp power,’” she said while discussing the latest line-up. “I don’t want to call it grown-up, because that sounds kind of naff, but it’s a departure.” Stripped-down tailoring is one of New York’s emerging themes – serious, even austere clothes for cautionary times. The frills and embellishments of last season’s Khaite show were missing here. There was no silk fringe or diamanté trim, no snakeskin prints and definitely no polka dots. “There’s that famous Diana Vreeland quote, ‘always take one thing off before you leave the house,’ I always try to think about that,” Holstein said. “Maybe it got lost along the way in some of the other collections, but for this one we were talking about taking things away and being comfortable with that, and that’s also empowerment as well.” It wasn’t as peeled back as that might sound. The show started with a prodigious brushed natural shearling coat with black leather trim that nearly scraped the store’s poured concrete floor, and there was much more shearling, even for trousers, which will take a very strong woman to pull off. But overall the collection was a study of silhouette and material, not surface attractions. Black leather for a lean double-breasted coat and mini and midi skirts that flounced in a-line shape from the hips. Bonded crepe satin with a chiffon under layer for dresses as high of neck and long of sleeve as religious garb. Rubberized twill for a long hooded cape. And stretch jersey for body limning dresses with a sexiness that is “owned rather than declared,” to borrow an effective line from the press release.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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