Khaite’s creative director Catherine Holstein used F/W 23 as an opportunity to unofficially open her brand’s first-ever retail space, staging the show to an intimate 100-person crowd in her new SoHo digs. There’s an unexpectedly sweet story behind the shopfront, which was designed by Holstein’s architect husband Griffin Frazen. Details, shared to in an exclusive interview earlier this week, include bent steel-tube hanging rails, a James Turrell-style skylight, and a Bucida buceras tree, nicknamed “Shady Lady,” planted into the shop’s floor. It’s a moment of arrival for Holstein, who has spent the last seven years transforming Khaite into one of the buzziest names in American fashion.
Holstein’s brand is evolving during a pivotal moment for the designer, who is about to give birth to her first child. The end result was a Fall Winter ‘23 collection that felt decidedly “grown up.” Khaite has always given good party dress, but this season the razor short minis and crystal embellishments were temporarily parked, giving way to functional pieces that could make up the core of a working woman’s wardrobe. Les you think that means they were boring, they were anything but. The opening look was an oversized shearling coat with leather lapels that many women in the audience (among them, Alexa Chung, Irina Shayk and Chloe Fineman) would gladly sell a limb for. Shearling was an unexpected motif throughout the collection, appearing on fabulously OTT shearling trousers, camisoles, cropped bombers, and best of all, furry pumps.
Khaite have spearheaded a new kind of New York luxury, one deeply influenced by unapologetically American designers like Michael Kors (when Holstein won the prestigious American Womenswear Designer of the Year Award at the CFDAs last December, she name-checked Kors). The basis of their success is elevated fabrics cut in smart, flattering silhouettes, and these were F/W ‘23’s best looks. The oversized wool coats, the asymmetrical silk tunics, the full-length skirts in pleated jersey. Holstein is a designer with an impeccably realized vision, one that is resonating with a new generation of shoppers who would rather buy less and buy better. One suspects this store will be the first of many.