The word for the season was “ferocity,” and the main character, as always, was New York, Cate Holstein said backstage after her commanding Khaite runway show Saturday night.
The designer flexed her position in the industry by taking over the Park Avenue Armory, a space long reserved for Marc Jacobs’ shows. Talk about a power move.
And she tapped her husband, Griffin Frazen, who has designed sets and spaces for Grimes, Oneohtrix Point Never and Thom Yorke, to design the dramatic spot lighting that tracked models as they made their way with determination and grace through the enveloping darkness of the Armory’s massive drill hall.
Holstein hinted at political darkness backstage — “with everything going on in the world, and even in America, things we haven’t seen in a long time,” she said, noting that the belt buckles and cuffs molded into the shape of clasped hands signified the social norms of how women are expected to behave with hands clasped in laps, and how that can hold them back when they try to move forward.
Of course, more than selling a seasonal concept or trend, Khaite is about finding the perfect piece, and there were a lot of them, including precision-tailored elongated blazers with pronounced lapels; mega power shoulder coats, and covetable leather looks, such as the oversized black leather bomber, and a white leather, rounded shoulder, cropped double-breasted jacket. All of them would inspire confidence.
She introduced silk gazar into her design vocabulary, creating romantic peasant blouses with volume sleeves tucked into black cigarette pants or shorts, and sleeveless dresses that seemed to float over the body. Playing with sensuality, weightless ruched silk dresses hugged the curves before dissolving into fringe over the legs, and leather dresses were shaped at the waist by subtle corsetry, but ultimately all about ease. The bags were great, including a brass-accented clutch resembling a gold bar, and the Aimee turned into a kiss-lock tote.
What Holstein does is never a revolution so much as an evolution, choosing the power of style over the pressures of fashion.