SI­MONS SAYS

With a fresh new flag­ship and rave run­way re­views, de­sign star Raf Si­mons is re­build­ing Calvin Klein from the ground up.

Gotham - - Contents - BY ADRI­ENNE GAFFNEY

It’s a sea­son of fresh starts at Calvin Klein. The first col­lec­tions from Raf Si­mons, the new chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, are emerg­ing in stores, and the brand’s Madi­son Av­enue flag­ship has re­opened with a new de­sign in­spired by Si­mons’s vi­sion for the sea­son.

Hav­ing built a rep­u­ta­tion as per­haps the great­est tal­ent in fash­ion to­day through his work at Jil San­der and Dior, Si­mons has helped spark ex­cite­ment about Calvin Klein. The Bel­gian de­signer pre­sented his first show to glow­ing re­views in Fe­bru­ary, af­ter com­ing on board in Au­gust 2016. The Au­tumn/win­ter col­lec­tion was filled with pri­mary-color sep­a­rates, power blaz­ers, plas­tic trench coats, and—stay­ing true to the brand’s his­tory—plenty of see-through tops.

For the store’s re­open­ing, Si­mons re­cruited the artist Ster­ling Ruby, a long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor, to cre­ate an in­stal­la­tion (orig­i­nally de­signed by Bri­tish ar­chi­tect John Paw­son) that would play on the themes of the col­lec­tion and the idea of con­struc­tion. (The whole build­ing is sched­uled for re­mod­el­ing in the near fu­ture.) Ruby’s work is al­ready a part of the Calvin Klein iden­tity: Af­ter Si­mons joined the com­pany, Ruby re­designed two spa­ces in its Gar­ment District head­quar­ters.

The three-story Madi­son Av­enue flag­ship is now an ar­rest­ing yel­low (Ben­jamin Moore’s De­light­ful Yel­low), while the scaf­fold­ing that spans the space is in­tended to con­vey the idea that this is the start of a new era for Calvin Klein. Vin­tage quilts are also dis­played through­out, re­in­forc­ing the el­e­ments of Amer­i­cana in both Ruby’s work and the Calvin Klein ethos. Ruby’s own tex­tile art­works hang along­side them. Build­ing on the sense of home is a new line of Calvin Klein bed­ding, sold be­side home goods from other brands— cof­fee mugs from Homer Laughlin, vases from celebrated ce­ram­i­cist Rose Ca­bat, and vin­tage Ital­ian glass­ware.

The Ster­ling Ruby part­ner­ship is the lat­est in a se­ries of re­cent brand­ing ef­forts that have helped Calvin Klein re­main firmly in the cul­tural di­a­logue. Last win­ter’s ad cam­paign for Calvin Klein un­der­wear, fea­tur­ing the wildly pop­u­lar male stars of Moon­light, caused a big splash. (Si­mons also dressed the cast for the Os­cars, and star Ash­ton San­ders at­tended the Met Ball in one of his looks.) Fur­ther ce­ment­ing his pop-cul­ture cred, Si­mons worked with pho­tog­ra­pher Alas­dair Mclel­lan on a mu­sic video for the song “I Dare You” by the xx, star­ring Mil­lie Bobby Brown (of Stranger Things) and Paris Jack­son.

That’s not to sug­gest Si­mons’s fo­cus has strayed from his main gig. In June, he took home CFDA Fash­ion Awards for De­signer of the Year in both menswear and wom­enswear, be­com­ing only the sec­ond de­signer to do so. The first? Calvin Klein him­self, in 1993.

Since ar­riv­ing at Calvin Klein just over a year ago, Raf Si­mons has reestab­lished its cul­tural cred, but his eyes re­main laser­fo­cused on the brand’s fu­ture.

ƚƛƨưƞ: Bucket bag in luxe calf, $1,795, and metal sun­glasses, $450. ƥƞɵƭ: A look from Calvin Klein’s Au­tumn/ Win­ter 2017 col­lec­tion.

Si­mons’s vi­sion for Calvin Klein is re­flected in the brand’s re­fur­bished Madi­son Av­enue flag­ship, fea­tur­ing vi­brant pri­mary colors (like this De­light­ful Yel­low) and scaf­fold­ing that sym­bol­izes the start of a new era.

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