Hanna Tveite
Heathermary Jackson
Alix Browne

At a time where all of our experiences seemed to be styled for the ersatz reality of Instagram, KHAITE founder Catherine Holstein is making the sort of beautiful, well-made and, yes, wearable clothes that women want to wear in real life. If people want to think of her as the next Phoebe Philo… well, let’s just say she’s getting used to the idea.

AB: So, you just had your first runway presentation, for Fall 2019. That’s a big step. How do you feel that it went? Were there any surprises – good or bad?
CH: It’s funny to look back at that night. I went home and thought to myself, “I totally blew it.” But then I watched the show on my computer and realized that at the very least, I was engaged. I try to look at everything I do objectively. And yes, there were things I wish I had done differently. But at the end of the night I decided at the very minimum, the show was unique. And as an artist, that is all I could hope to be.
AB: Fashion has become a form of entertainment, with presentations being judged more on showmanship than the actual clothing. Did you feel pressure to put on a big show? How did you arrive at the idea for your presentation?
CH: I never had an intention of doing a show when I started this company, but I felt there was a pulse of newness in New York, and that with the high growth of KHAITE over the past year, it was time for us to contribute to the movement. When we met with Prodject, the discussion was centered on how we tell the story in an intimate, refined and sincere way? I showed them a picture I snapped of Washington Square Park that morning on my walk to work. The bright yellow leaves covered the ground under the dampness of the passing rain. I told them I wanted this feeling – my New York in autumn, my stroll to work in the morning. Over time, the idea grew like the center tree. It was a beautiful experience. I can’t wait to start it over again.
AB: These days, dressing real women for their real day-to-day lives, allowing them to feel comfortable and powerful and feminine, seems like a radical proposition. People are saying you are filling in the giant hole in women’s wardrobes left by Phoebe Philo. How do you feel about that?
CH: Hmmmm, now that’s a radical proposition. Phoebe Philo set a standard that I feel is impossible to fill. She is she, I am me. Personally, I could not find the clothes I wanted to buy. I wanted the pieces that I gravitated toward every morning – a great cashmere sweater, a solid robust pair of jeans, pieces that are about the materials. I didn’t understand why no single brand offered these items to me.
Why was the search so agonizing and lackluster? Sure, I bought beautiful things by other designers a billion times more talented than myself. But, did I wear them? Often, they sat there – too precious to be touched. I also felt that there was a lack of voice for American sportswear for my gen- eration. It felt time to offer a new proposition to New York, and that is to celebrate and honor it.
AB: Do you like uniforms – in practice or in theory? Do you have certain pieces you personally wear all the time?
CH: Jeans and sweaters, jeans and sweaters, jeans and sweaters. All winter long it’s jeans and sweaters. Everyone I know is always shocked at how much I transform for spring/ summer. Summer for me will always be Mediterranean: big skirts, bralette tops, and a white poplin shirt – strong and elegant.
AB: What was your earliest fashion or clothing related memory?
CH: When I was 3, my brother gave me his suspenders that had cars on them. I remember buckling them to my corduroy pants over my white Lacoste shirt (quite the tomboy with 3 brothers after all), and I was exhilarated. As a 3 year-old, this was a new feeling all together, which is daunting and disturbing. I was shocked that an object could make me feel something, while at that age I didn’t even know what the concept of feeling was yet. It was a fascination ever since. A never-ending search.
AB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
CH: When I had to close my first company and felt really defeated, my friend’s father said to me, “Cate, this is one of the six times you are going to have to start over in your adult life.” I really enjoy thinking of that now. It reminds me to enjoy and also to let go.
AB: Best compliment you’ve ever received?
CH: Probably the Philo comparison in your question above.
Lindsey Wixon is wearing Khaite Pre-Fall 2019
Photography: Hanna Tveite
Styling: Heathermary Jackson
Model: Lindsey Wixon at Society
Makeup: Mariel Barrera at Wall Group
Hair: Pasquale Ferrante at Wall Group
Casting: Clare Rhodes at Casting By Us
Stylist’s assistant: Quan Nguyen
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