Calvin Klein: Raf Simons' American dream
Graphics, lettering, Warhol’s car crashes and logos marched across many outfits – Simons’ latest reinvention of the American Dream. One that has confidently discarded the minimalism that was this house's leitmotif in favor of a humorous assemblage of American iconography. All made in the boldest color palette – from the blood orange, fuchsia and canary yellow satin rodeo shirts to the fire engine red cowboy boots.
Men and women – almost interchanging their wardrobes - as both sexes donned wool plaid, chesterfield coats; denim jackets; jeans overprinted with Warhol superheroes or pants finished with leather tags bearing miniatures of Brooke Shields from the legendary “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins,” ad campaign. T-shirts also boasted Warhol images of Raf’s muse this season – Sandra Brant, the famed art collector.
Throw in some great harlequin pattern throws embroidered with the company’s name and address or a slew of outlandish accessories – several models carried around their wrists bundles of wool passementerie; perfume flacons (the brand’s famed Eternity and Obsession fragrances); industrial belts and even holsters. The result? A great show, eye-catching clothes and a highly commercial collection – all of which combined will make Calvin Klein the hottest American label today.
Once, Calvin Klein signified mono-color and high-tech fabrics. Not anymore. Under Simons it means neon hues, French silks and abstract expressionist leathers. The designer had already telegraphed his punches with the recent redesign of the Calvin Klein flagship store on Madison Avenue. It had been a temple of 90s minimalism – an all-white box courtesy of architect John Pawson now repainted in bright yellow, with lots hangings and suspended clumps of fabrics from Sterling Ruby. The same LA-based artist whose giant and colorful wool tassels hung from the ceiling at this show, staged in the house’s Midtown headquarters on 39th street. Outside, a gridlock of Cadillac Escalades as the stars – Kate Bosworth, Kyle MacLachlan and Cindy Crawford, whose daughter Kaia walked in the show – arrived in a blaze of paparazzi lights.
“I think that fashion has been playing it too safe of late. That’s why it’s essential to watch lots of cinema and TV series. They create with much more freedom,” argued Simons backstage. On the soundtrack: the theme music to American Beauty to Fahrenheit 451.
Speaking before a gang of a dozen fashion writers backstage, Simons surprised his listeners by revealing that his favorite recent pastime has been catching up on Game of Thrones.
“I have become hooked on it. And it started seven years ago and I never watched it. But it’s mind blowing, everything about – the battles, the dialogue and the locations. It’s not what you would expect that I would like. All those fights!” he beamed. In exact contrast to all the modern feminine silk slips and fishnet topped cocktails on the catwalk.
Simons, who kindly took his bow with his long-standing design collaborator Pieter Mulier, who when asked about all the Warhol T-shirts, explained: “Why Dennis Hopper? He’s the all-American male!”
Could not agree more with the man.
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