Calvin Klein F/W 2017
Raf Simons hits the sweet spot of directional fashion that will sell
Zeitgenossenschaft is the fancy German word that bests sums up how we feel about Raf Simons. When I was still the fashion director of Details magazine in New York, one of my first business trips was to Antwerp to visit Raf Simons; then already the most avant-garde voice in men’s fashion. It was a wonderful trip where Raf took a lot of time and drove me around all over Antwerp in his old Mercedes station wagon. He showed me the Ann Demeulemeester store, antiques shops and the famous fashion academy. I was going to all his Raf shows and we ended up seeing each other in New York a few times walking through Soho. He was a tourist discovering the galleries and I still lived here. Now the tables have turned and after a wonderfully surprising debut at Calvin Klein, my first question backstage was about how it feels to be a New Yorker. “To be honest, it is much harder than I thought. I have been coming here for years and loved it but now living here has been a very challenging period.” admitted Simons.
One thing is for sure, the difficulty did not show in the clothes. Inspired by American youth and Americanisms, Simons sent out brightly colored marching band uniform striped pants, fancy Prince of Wales tailored suits for him and her, quilting on a terrific men’s parka, cool plastic covered yellow fur coat and feathered cocktail numbers in plastic as well. It all had a hint of subversive sex, a hallmark of the brand but generally done more overtly by Klein himself and here a bit more dangerous and European. He accessorized all his looks with metal plated cowboy boots reminding another big American brand that they don’t own the Wild West alone.
The fresh casting of boys and girls had to wear sheer shells with varsity sweaters arms, not such a good idea. Brooke Shields famous silhouette was stamped on the leather label on the back of the jeans. In general, the jeans portion was strong with very high-waisted versions for men and women and some tough black leather numbers. As always, Raf loves to style a thin turtleneck under his shirts.
Working with artist Sterling Ruby with whom he has already successfully collaborated for his own men’s line, he smartly extended the brand’s reach into the art world. Simon is an avid collector himself and understands that contemporary art is just part of the Zeitgeist right now for his clients over 40. Even better, while the soundtrack was anchored by David Bowie’s This is not America and familiar, at night Simons threw a party with techno god Richie Hawtin plus Nina Kraviz aligning the brand with the explosion of electronic music in America where five years ago Hip Hop was the defining sound; now Las Vegas and the West Coast nightclubs resemble Ibiza raves and the 15 – 30 year old crowd is hooked. But that’s why they hired him in the first place, the suits at PVH, many of them sitting front row and not looking too comfortable in their skin with all the exposed nipples but still clapping wildly when Simons and his design director Pieter Mulier took their bow together.
Check out the finale: