Jeff Mahshie, head designer for the Chaiken line, is still
very much a talent in bloom. A graduate of Parsons, Mr Mahshie first
joined Julie Chaiken in 1998 at Chaiken, a company launched
in 1994, with the mandate to create a line that is ‘sophisticated
and chic for the urban working woman.’ Since then, Mr Mahshie and
Ms Chaiken have worked closely and diligently to expand the company
beyond its American sportswear roots to now include swimwear and
eveningwear designs (among others) that is carried at Barney’s New
York, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and 200 other national and
international specialty stores and boutiques around the world.
They have, over time, perfected their skills in
creating wardrobe essentials that are current and versatile, with
an echo of menswear detailing. Their collections have a timeless
quality, and fall 2004 was no exception. Their line-up of sexy American
sportswear-influenced designs started with the winning combination
of a forest green degrade silk mousseline turtleneck and brown washed
wool herringbone cropped trouser topped by a violet shearling coat—and
with the exception of a few pieces—it was a triumphant gallop to
the finish line. All the coats shown were simply lovely, especially
the white wool and cashmere blend double-breasted trench coat at
the top of the show.
Their raw shearling balmacaan "highwayman"
coat was particularly outstanding; and honorary mention must go
to the brown washed wool herringbone portrait collar coat and the
metallic khaki trench at the end. The able usage of menswear detailing
they are known for was mostly highlighted in the beautiful cut of
the trousers in the collection, and could also be seen in the fit
and cut of the body-hugging pencil skirts throughout the presentation.
There weren’t a whole lot of evening pieces in this collection—the
spring 2004 collection has more—but the evening designs here were
quite beautifully understated, with a standout example being their
sensual nude buffed tuxedo slip dress.
This collection was a success because of the seemingly
effortless execution of it all. Mr Mahshie and Ms Chaiken didn’t
try to overreach beyond their natural vocabulary, but there were
enough innovative bells and whistles in their designs to satisfy
Phillip D. Johnson is features editor
of Lucire. Richard Spiegel is New York editor of Lucire.
Their collections have
a timeless quality, and fall 2004 was no exception