“I wanted it to feel more sensual,” said Catherine Holstein. “It’s a riskier take, especially for a line that’s kind of synonymous with ‘easy.’ But there’s a side of me that loves a sense of gaudiness and flash . . .” Speaking backstage after her New York SS20 show, the Khaite creative director was explaining the apparent volte-face of a line that has become known for staple yet luxurious classics. But perhaps this pivot in direction and duality in message is not that surprising.
Founded in 2016, Khaite has made its name reimagining American sportswear. Staples such as jeans, shirting and knits, referred to by the brand as “cherished basics”, have appealed to modern minimalists, and provided an element of polish for everyday wardrobes. For SS20, Americana references were still very much in evidence, with fringed suede jackets, blue denim and plaid all making an appearance, but these looks were punctuated by a collection of much more playful pieces and some dramatic contrasts.
Prints taken from wallpaper patterns provided the element of playfulness, and featured on fluid pants, knotted sarongs and handkerchief-hem dresses. A clutch of plaid-and-tulle pairings and tailoring styled with beachwear made for statement-making contrasts, and exposed shoulders and navel-baring blouses injected a sensual feel to the proceedings. And of course, the rhinestone headpieces, which are anything but staple.
While these disparate codes may seem to confuse an otherwise clear-cut brand, combining these traits into a single collection reflects how each of us strives to navigate our own complex personas. For SS20, Holstein wanted to bring out her more provocative side, and did so. In kind, by choosing to subvert our own conflicting codes, we can each allow our other selves to shine.