Catherine Holstein photographed her Khaite pre-fall collection in a New York auto tunnel. Captured somewhere beneath the Hudson or East River, the scene captures her affection for the city’s gritty glamour, but it’s also a poetic nod to how she felt when she designed the clothes. Between the endless pandemic, the political tumult, and climate change—to name just a few of our modern crises—Holstein compared our shared experience to rushing through a dark tunnel, unsure when or where it will end. Scary? Definitely. But the takeaway is just to keep moving forward. (“The only way out is through,” et cetera.)
That manifested in a collection she described with one word: fast. “Not ‘fast fashion,’” she clarified, nor was it impulsive or overly sleek. Holstein was thinking more about pieces that are efficient, unfussy, comfortable, straightforward. Much of it will be familiar to Khaite loyalists: the drop-shoulder trench, the slouchy leather bomber, the sumptuous cashmeres, and the glossy blouses with frills fanning around the wrists. A quilted barn jacket reflected the broader trend for rugged, functional outerwear, while the hip-hugging trousers and skirts will refresh the conversation around fashion’s inevitable return to low-rise pants. (Say what you will about the early-’00s look, but like many of us, Holstein is over the waist-whittling strictness of ribcage denim.)
The real news was in the more decorative couture touches, partly prompted by the success of Holstein’s spring 2022 collection. A quarter-zip “sweatshirt” in jet sequins is her version of an evening blouse—special, but as comfy as a fleece—and the satin harness we saw on the runway in September reappeared in sparkling silver Swarovski crystals. Holstein said her team hadn’t even planned on producing the harnesses last season, but the reaction from press and retailers was strong enough to warrant extending its lifespan. It could become a key accessory for the label, particularly if enough Khaite shoppers want to extend the life of their own dresses and shirts by layering one on top.