The setting for Khaite’s latest show was as dark as G. W. Pabst or a Carl Meyer film; two jet black halls, where the huge catwalk looked like it was made of black ice.
The mood was intoxicatingly Expressionist throughout, with models in austere Stasi-chic leather spy coats; the key leitmotif of this fall 2024 collection by Khaite’s creative director and founder Catherine Holstein.
Without a doubt, the most agenda-setting designer in New York today, her latest collection was also her most emotive, with starkly sculpted coats, jackets and dresses. Almost as if the fabric was thrown onto the models, then dimpled and scrunched into shape.
Given events in the world at large – from the Ukraine to Gaza – it should be no surprise to witness the re-emergence in fashion of Expressionism. That artistic movement, which emphasizes personal feelings and experiences, heightens shapes and distorts reality to express darker moods.
As did this show, where the cast walked out of darkness, backed up by a somber rock soundtrack including the moodiest song of Joy Division, ‘She’s Lost Control’.
Exactly the opposite of Holstein, who seems incredibly focused as a designer. Showing molded silk gazar tops with unexpected darts; exaggeratedly proportioned great coats; and rippling cocoon coats. All with a great sense of authority and power.
“This was all about the way we were draping the fabrics on the body. Having very sculptural moments, but also really letting them almost build on their own. And not trying to make too much out of them. All of this almost happened by accident, as an exploration,” explained Holstein in a stream of consciousness speaking style backstage.
Before greeting Naomi Watts, who explained, “I would like to introduce my daughter,” presenting Kai Schreiber.
Holsten’s front row attested to how hot Khaite has become as a brand. With the likes of Sofia Richie Grainge, Alexa Chung, Patina Miller and Rebecca Dayan in attendance at the show, staged at Pier 61 on the Hudson River.
All to admire this impressive collection worn with obvious pride by the cast. The model’s hair pulled back, their makeup pale, their lips rouged – latter day Sally Bowles in lower Manhattan.
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