- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
New York - Raf Simons' debut collection for Calvin Klein on Friday elevated New York fashion week to a new level. Since the departure of Proenza Schouler and Rodarte for Paris there has been little stimulus on the calendar for directional fashion. So too the industry has been patiently waiting since August to see what Simons would do for the institution that is Calvin Klein.
With a soundtrack to match the spirit of the clothes, Simons taught us a thing or two about Americanism and it's place in the world. Opening with the uniform of a marching band he presented two-tone shirts and slim-cut trousers, worn over rollnecks by both sexes.
A flurry of American interpretations followed, the checked Wall street suits, parka's lined with quilting, cowboy boots with metal tips, oversized leather jackets and varsity sweaters, even tailoring covered in plastic - a tongue-in-cheek reference to America's oddball practice to preserve fancy sofas and furniture.
The iconic Brooke Shields campaign where 'nothing comes between me and my Calvins' came in the form of a leather denim label, stamped on selvedge jeans, the kind that fashionistas could easily wear.
Calvin Klein has been off the 'radar of relevance' for some time
Despite Calvin Klein's impressive sales figures and global distribution, the brand has been off the radar of relevance longer than we care to remember. But these were clothes that embody aspiration and told a story - telling perhaps why there was so much genuine excitement after the show not seen by Simons' predecessor, Francisco Costa.
Calvin Klein is a big, complex brand
Calvin Klein is a big brand, with complex licenses, diffusion ranges and multiple audiences. Its underwear and jeans collection are the cash cow, but are far removed from the fashion periphery that inhabits the world's most dynamic retailers and dresses the coolest folk. A pair of Calvin Klein underwear peek-a-booing under a pair of jeans is a moment long, long gone, however iconic it once was.
Calvin Klein brought us American minimalism, youth culture, sex appeal and most of all spirit. Simons mixed it up to give it relevance, desirability and purpose. As the David Bowie track that opened and closed the show sang, "This is not America," or maybe it is.
Photo credit: Fernanda Calfat / Getty Images North America / AFP