Calvin Klein’s 2018 pop ski odyssey
Even before the audience gathered at the American Stock Exchange building, Raf Simons, a playful sort, had telegraphed his intentions this season for Calvin Klein with his invitation.
A bag of popcorn hidden inside a silver metallic bag with -- surprise, surprise -- images from Andy Warhol.
This season, one of the Pop Artist’s crash paintings, with a dead figure hanging out of an ambulance. Though, on the other side of the packaging it read More and More and More.
Pre-show, the live-stream feed even had images of a popcorn stand in action. The set was something else: the remains of three New England barns with lots of wrecked wood, scaffolding and corrugated iron. Its huge painted walls somehow suggesting the Factory, Warhol’s famed studio on Union Square, with one wall featuring the visage like Ingrid Brant-Sischy, the eventual publisher of Interview, Warhol’s famed magazine.
The sound of wind whistling through the New England rural space before the action began with a pulsating techno beat. Blackness and then light – a gal with wool balaclava marching in popcorn snow, wearing a flight jacket style jerkin and huge wellington boots. She was followed by Liya Kebede in a faux leopard coat. There even was a leopard hijab meets ski-cap. The headgear was half the vision, from firemen’s hoods in silver metallics to knitted balaclavas to Retro Futurist metal caps.
Raf still likes to cut large – like massive shoulder chesterfields for guys and girls in wind-pane check, tweed and, again, metallic. The set suggested a chilly winter night, and a dozen of the ladies were dressed for a house warming party, featuring school teacher dresses, but subverted with slits to almost reveal breasts, and topped with Red knit balaclavas; suggestive ball gowns, opened arms and worn with silver elbow gloves; or Jesuit sleeved frocks of red tartan or silver lamé.
Simons reprised his signature contrasting pocket Western shirt, though worn over polo necks, and sometimes even with a hijab. He had a mad fox dancing on a eggshell blue sweater and finished with some Delaunay style print dresses and a lass in a faux coyote coat. Though the key hue in this fall collection was very much silver. Just like the popcorn bag.
Simons took his bow with a trademark wave, dressed in an oversized après sky sweater, enjoying the applause. Though, in truth, the clothes lack the couture-like finesse and bold cutting of a more incisive menswear collection he presented for his own label last Wednesday. "This collection is an evolution of my idea of Calvin Klein, of a view onto American society, but now wider, universal. It's an allegory for a meeting of old worlds and new worlds, relating to the discovery of America, the 1960s Space Race, and the twenty-first century information age", explained the designer.
Simons has clearly injected plenty of excitement back into Calvin Klein. His redecoration of the house’s flagship Madison Avenue store, switching from a white minimalist temple into canary yellow art installation crammed with the shaggy artwork of Sterling Ruby has clearly worked. Before the space was as empty as a Catholic cathedral in Shanghai; now it’s packed with onlookers and shoppers.
And he is highly coherent and on message when communicating. His latest spring ad campaign, features hirsute youth shot by Willy Vanderperre inside an abandoned, what else, barn. Clever and cool, even if there are those who believe that they still don’t pack the same sort of punch as the great campaigns from the founder Calvin Klein himself.
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