Catherine Holstein has always maintained her brand Khaite isn’t really a brand at all. “It’s a breath, a feeling, an emotion,” she told Vogue US earlier in the year. This couldn’t have been truer for Saturday’s show, one which was a deeply personal voyage for Holstein. “As soon as I walked in I found it overwhelmingly emotional,” Holstein told WWD of visiting her grandparents home after more than two decades. “To see something you haven’t seen in 25 years, but it’s been there and it’s exactly the same.” It was this visit to her grandparents home in Woodstock, Vermont, which remained largely unchanged since the 60s, which inspired a collection rooted in both retro Americana and childhood memories. There she found a place preserved, “each object and space released its long-held memories in flashes: the formative moments and everyday magic of childhood summers” today told through the lens of fashion, albeit unexpectedly.
Khaite’s bent has always been a kind of bourgeois minimalism; refined essentials and luxurious staples (denim, knits and tailoring her sartorial bread and butter) which references classic American sportswear. It’s something she has honed in a very short space of time via a legion of celebrity fans (need we mention Katie Holmes and the sell-out cashmere cardigan and bra which almost broke the internet last week). It’s a cult that keeps on growing, but today’s Khaite embarked on a new, introspective journey, one that was steeped in a nostalgic whimsy we’ve not yet seen of the adolescent brand.
Against a spectacular backdrop of stacked antique chairs; a kind of ’60s American spirit played out via lofty suede fringing, paisley, checks and flared trousers. Print was in abundance – everything from checks, tartan and plaid to paisley and chintz – some even fashioned into silky pareos and bubble-hem waists. The palette, too, felt implicitly sixties. Burgundy, brown, rust, tobacco and marigold; muted hues which felt evocative of the era, both familiar and universal.
At the end, it all reverted back to that moment in Woodstock. Along with the leather and denim and tassels, there was a playfulness; childish memories of dress-ups expressed through exaggerated puffy sleeves (even puffier than season’s past), frothy tulle, lace and crystal-trimmed capsleeves (thanks to a collaboration with Swarovski). There were peplums and sweetheart necklines and delicate shirring. Even the headpieces – strings of pearls and scattered rhinestones – felt as if they’d been plucked straight from an antique dresser, or as Holstein told Vogue US, from wearing her grandmother’s necklaces in her hair.
A stylistic deviation from Khaite’s usual aesthetic of refined, reimagined sportswear, this was a sidestep into an experiential and slightly more fantastical world. And what a lovely sidestep it was.