Khaite hosted its Fashion Week party on Thursday night, several days in advance of its show today (in part because we’ll be resting up for the Met Gala tonight, ruling out the usual after-party). The Indochine bash was a raucous good time, but you likely didn’t hear much about it. Photos were strongly discouraged, and there were zero celebrity dressing alerts or press releases in my inbox after the event. Cate Holstein wanted everyone to cut loose and reconnect, plain and simple.
Today’s show was similarly incompatible with Instagram, from the intentional lack of photographers to the (also intentional) dim, hazy lighting. It garnered its fair share of complaints from editors, not because they couldn’t ’gram it, but because they couldn’t see much of the clothes. Set in the bowels of a Lower East Side apartment building, there were wild green vines climbing up the walls, tumbling from the rafters, and snaking across the floor, as if we’d descended into an overgrown, long-forgotten basement. It was something of a metaphor for New York’s resilience and regeneration—no matter what, the city always comes back!—and echoed a collection designed for the equally resilient New York woman.
Much of Holstein’s focus this season was on the touch and feel of the clothes—and not just in the materials, but how a garment might alternately embrace or liberate the wearer. Gigi Hadid’s opening look was a luminous ivory satin coat lightly filled with down, “like your duvet cover, but more elevated,” Holstein said at a preview. “I think it’s still important to be gentle to ourselves,” she added. A crinkled organza bubble dress would be almost weightless on the body, while a new hand-stitched satin harness—Holstein’s version of jewelry—might feel satisfyingly snug over your T-shirt. A chrome sequined mini was deliberately heavy, “to ground you.” These are details that can’t be captured in two dimensions, but make all the difference IRL. “I think we’ve really established the brand’s character, so now it’s about pushing our materials and construction techniques,” Holstein said.
In many ways, this collection was a straightforward ode to New York, from the tough bombers and leather bustiers to the hits of silver foil (a nod to the city’s skyscrapers) and sporty, functional touches seen in the plush hoodies and squishy nylon sandals. But it was just as much a celebration of the New Yorkers who might wear the clothes. Holstein pointed out a ruched sequined dress in glittering pale gold, styled here with an oversized chocolate bomber. The effect was of a woman heading to a glitzy party—maybe her first since lockdown—and on her way out the door, she throws on her everyday jacket, not a fancy evening coat. “You still want to feel like you,” Holstein said. Why fuss when you can be comfortable? Now more than ever, she’s less inclined towards prescriptive “full looks” and is deeply curious to see how each customer puts their own unique spin on a Khaite piece. Her note about elevating the brand’s techniques and materials was accurate, too; these are clothes you’ll wear, rewear, and make your own for years and years to come.