“The New Sexy”

Katie Holmes wearing KHAITE’S cashmere bralette and cardigan in August 2019
Photo: marieclaire.com

On August 28th, 2019, Katie Holmes was photographed hailing a taxi in New York City wearing a cashmere cardigan and bra set from Catherine Holstein’s New York label KHAITE. Holmes wisely played it down with simple jeans, oversized sunglasses, and a simple black purse; her hair pulled back. The picture went viral and literally broke the internet. Both pieces sold out in minutes. The overall effect was sexy yet effortless, casual, and a bit tomboyish. The offhanded, serendipitous study in contrasts made it great then; it still looks great now. Maybe even better.

“I wanted to start embracing the word sexy”: Catherine Holstein.

The Edy Bra and Scarlet Cardigan in Crimson Cashmere
Photo: khaite.com

Holstein admitted that her merchandiser wanted to discontinue the bra at the time, but she “really believed in that piece and kept fighting for it.” It continues to be a top seller on the KHAITE website, www.khaite.com. In addition to barley (the color Holmes wore), the $520 “Edy” bralette and $1540 “Scarlet” cardigan (with $500 shorts to match) is offered in 9 hues, including navy, black, and crimson red- just in time for Valentine’s Day. There is also a leopard print. Talk about sexy. Who says you need racy lingerie?

Franca Bralette in stretch matte viscose
Photo: khaite.com

Raised in Southern California and London, Catherine Holstein moved to New York to attend The Parsons School of Design. The 37-year-old designer established KHAITE, her womenswear line, for Fall/Winter 2016. From the beginning, the detail-oriented Holstein focused on luxuriously fabricated and unapologetically polished American sportswear staples.

As the line evolved, it became darker, edgier, and sexier. By Holstein’s own admission, she wanted to start embracing “the word sexy,” even though she shunned it for years.

The Eda Bralette in Cheetah
Photo: khaite.com

Like KHAITE’s high-rise straight-leg jeans and puff sleeved blouses and dresses, which have already achieved cult status, Holstein’s sensuous soft cashmere knits and sculptural knitwear are now coveted mainstays of the line.

The Vita Bodysuit in stretch matte viscose
Photo: khaite.com

For the 2020 resort collection, Holstein continued the evolution of lingerie elements through the medium of knitwear. The KHAITE spring 2021 collection, “Knitwear, Refined,” which was introduced online this weekend, comprises stretch, structured knitwear in seasonless matte viscose.

The Charmaine Dress in stretch matte viscose
Photo: khaite.com

The body-conscious shirred and stitched dresses are knockout. There’s no question that the versatile tops and bodysuits (priced from about $880 – $1480) with precisely placed cutouts are the clear winners.

Maddy stretch rib knit sweater Photo:

They are sexy and alluring but easy to wear at home with your most comfy pj’s, sweat pants, joggers, shorts, or baggy jeans.

The Lory Bodysuit in ivory stretch matte viscose jersey
Photo: khaite.com

Later on, when we can finally congregate (and there is somewhere to go), they look great with well-cut trousers, Bermuda’s, tuxedo pants, or skirts in any length or shape.

Wool Knit Lace-Up Bralette in Heather Gray Photo:

The Frankie Shop has several appealing sweaters that will do the trick for those who don’t want to splurge on KHAITE’s pricey offerings. Their cropped wool bolero turtleneck sweater in mélange gray sells for $114.

Wool bolero cropped turtleneck sweater in mélange gray
Photo: thefrankieshop.com

The wool knit lace-up bralette in heather gray will only set you back $79.

Alaia Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo by Pierre Ange Carlotti

It’s all about knitwear. Knits are comfortable, modern, and they move with the body. Nobody did them better or made them look more sexy or beguiling than Azzedine Alaia. His couture quality, sculpted stretch knits are unparalleled.

Three years after Alaia’s passing, Pieter Mulier was named as head of design. The Belgian-born designer “cut his teeth” as an intern for Raf Simons before transitioning to Simons’ right-hand man working alongside him at Jil Sander, Christian Dior, and Calvin Klein, where he was global creative director. He left when Raf departed. Mulier’s first collection for Maison Alaia will be Spring Summer 2022.

Meanwhile, is it me, or do all fashion roads seem to lead to Raf Simons? Or maybe I should say Calvin Klein.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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