Self-reflection may end up being one of the biggest trends of New York Fashion Week. The number of designers who have mentioned looking inward, self-care, taking stock of what’s important, and realigning their definition of success is remarkable.
No doubt part of that is the near Sisyphean path to success today’s independent fashion brands face. Puppets & Puppets founder Carly Mark, creator of the hit cookie bag, told The New York Times earlier this week that she can no longer sell clothes in New York, and is moving to London to focus solely on accessories; Elena Velez, who is not having a traditional runway show this season, has also been vocal in the media about her financial struggles as a young, buzzy designer.
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More broadly, and perhaps cynically, mental health awareness is on the rise, particularly among Gen Z, who studies have shown support brands that support wellbeing.
Khaite is undoubtedly one of New York fashion’s recent success stories, helmed by two-time CFDA Women’s Designer of the Year winner Cate Holstein, who has created a powerful brand mystique, ridden a wave of pricey hit accessories and wardrobe staples tweaked season after season to become a retailer darling, secured financial backers and opened two of her own stores.
For fall 2024, however, even Holstein was about self-reflection–quite literally, as it happens, staging her runway show in a black box of a space on Pier 61, with a mirrored shiny runway that reflected the models in it as they walked.
“It’s something I think that’s on everybody’s mind,” Holstein said backstage of looking within, which for her was to youthful thoughts of her sophisticated mother (“she put lipstick on the moment she woke up, she kept it on her bedside table”), and trying to live more in the moment–even when things go wrong–since the birth of her own child.
Those sentiments were woven into the clothing in hauntingly beautiful silk gazar sleeveless tops with long rippling skirts, and goddess-like gowns draped on the body, capturing a moment in time, and finished with long opera gloves. “This was a full dress that as the model was lifting it up, and we were doing her shoes, I was like, ‘Don’t move,’ and we came in and pinned and reworked it,” Holstein explained of a glossy black gown.
Elsewhere, the designer pumped out a stream of covetable new takes on her brand mainstays: sculptural leather coats with big bold rounded shoulders, in super cropped and swingy silhouettes or elongated and with bubbled out hems. There were new paperbag waist skirts and pants to go along with boxy tailoring, luscious faux furs (some in lipstick red for her mama); scarfy silk prints and sheer chiffon whisper thin gowns that floated down the runway like a memory.
The message was in the strength of vulnerability, which is Khaite’s way.
“I’ve had some major life changes in the last year, and I have entered a point in my life of actual calm, and happiness,” the designer said, proving that everyone’s life, no matter how rosy it may seem, is its own journey. “Sitting with happiness, it’s funny, it’s harder than misery in a way. It can be a bit scary. So I’m trying to train myself to sit in happiness.”
Launch Gallery: Khaite Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear Photos
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