Monday, September 21, 2020
Home Fashion & Lifestyle Khaite Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Khaite Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Many of the collections coming out of this COVID-19 season are centered around ideas of optimism, hope, and joy. The clothes are bright, the prints are mood-elevating, the look books are set in fields of flowers or lush forests. There’s nothing wrong with envisioning a better tomorrow in such ominous times, but there’s also something to be said for confronting reality head-on. “What does it mean to feel simultaneously paralyzed and galvanized?” reads a line in Khaite’s press release. “Growth is never easy,” Catherine Holstein said on a Zoom call. “We’re going through one of our collective nightmares as a society. They’ve made horror movies about this. It’s mind-blowing, but it also gives me a renewed strength. Living through it has been so challenging, but on the other side, it’s so invigorating and inspiring.”

Her collections had taken on a darker, moodier tone before the pandemic; she was craving a uniform of jeans, leather jackets, and combat boots. No frills, no fuss. (She name-checked Nicolas Ghesquière’s excellent fall 2002 Balenciaga collection as a reference.) She said she was thinking about the New York she inhabited as a college grad in the early ’00s, when the city had an “element of menace” that has since faded. “But now, there’s a bit of that industrial feeling again,” she said. It’s a survivalist one too. New Yorkers are in the streets (there’s nowhere else to go), linking arms (metaphorically, that is) and getting through this together. How do you dress for that? Not in a prairie dress. “I think women are going to want to look strong.”

Holstein worked with director Hanna Tveite to distill that feeling of New York into a look book and film. They also created 100 “presentation boxes” to send editors and buyers, packed with blown-up look books, fabric swatches, and an augmented reality experience that beams Khaite’s shoes into your living room. (New this season: fuchsia satin slingback pumps, square-sole gladiator sandals, and kitten-heel boots.) Holstein was surprised to report that shoes were among her top sellers this summer, despite the fact that most of us hardly left home. Also surprising: Women bought Khaite evening dresses, and Holstein could hardly keep her leather moto jackets in stock. The former speaks to the “fantasy shoppers” dreaming of future events; the latter illustrates a growing interest in timeless, keep-forever investment pieces. Holstein’s word for them: “cherished.” When we can’t predict tomorrow’s headlines, there’s a comfort in buying something you can see yourself wearing and loving 10 or 20 years from now.

Of course, the women buying that motorcycle jacket might also be feeling the strong, unprecious aesthetic Holstein is leaning into. They’ll find more of that in the spring 2021 collection, from Khaite’s familiar body-skimming knits and ruched dresses to sharp-shouldered tailoring, nubby cashmere sweaters, and glossy knee-high patent boots. Holstein said it was a “more comfortable” collection than seasons past, and that’s mostly down to the sweaters. Made from the most luxurious wools, recycled cashmeres, and viscose yarns, they’re among the best on the market.

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