While watching yesterday’s Calvin Klein show, where Raf Simons had his anticipated debut, I thought that up to now, a fashion follower felt like he / she had to belong to a specific ‘camp’. After Alessandro Michele of Gucci and Demna Gvasalia of Vetements and Balenciaga appeared on the scene in more or less the same time, fashion got so polarised. You either had to rush after embroidery madness and all those sparkly accessories or go for “the uglier, the better” kind of look, which says a strict ‘no’ to anything pretty. But what about people (like me), who weren’t falling into any of these camps entirely? I’m still a helpless sucker for Phoebe Philo’s Céline. But here is the new Calvin Klein.
Years at his own menswear brand, succesful tenures at Jil Sander and Dior – from every aspect, Raf seems to be the person, who can handle a major fashion brand, putting it again into the spotlight (and for longer, than a while). And especially if a label like Calvin Klein, which for the last few years was rather associated with Justin Bieber’s phallus in a pair of boxers than remarkable clothing, gradually declined. And Calvin Klein wasn’t only about NSFW Kate Moss and Brooke Shields advertisements: in the past, Klein used to pull off empowering suits for businesswomen, sensual slip-dresses and timeless apparel.
When Raf Simons and his design team (Pieter Mulier and Matthieu Blazy) were appointed at Calvin Klein back in August, the Belgian designer understood those codes instantly. And he knew they had to come back for good. Not only Calvin Klein logo and advertising campaigns got revamped; but the entire wardrobe for both men and women (both lines will be now put into one collection) went through heavy refreshment. For autumn-winter 2017, the Belgian designer put emphasis on suiting. Over-sized blazers for both men and women looked sharp, just like the pencil skirts and smart pants. The yellow coat worn by Julia Nobis was ‘trapped’ under vinyl, just like technicolour-era feather dresses. Simons loves messing up with stereotypes, so did he with American glamour: even the heels looked plastic-fantastic. Contemporary cowboy boots; body exposure mania in form of transparent knitwear; total leather looks for a motorcycle ride along Route 66. Even though Raf presented his first collection just a few months after Donald Trump won the elections, he doesn’t want to be miserable. He wants to celebrate America, its absurdity and phenomena. And that’s best seen in the wrapped, USA flag skirt.