RAF SIMONS' TENURE AT CALVIN KLEIN.
RAF SIMONS, STERLING RUBY AND ANDY WARHOL: HOW THE BELGIAN DESIGNER FUSED AMERICAN HERITAGE WITH YOUTH-FOCUSED COLLABORATION AT CALVIN KLEIN:
Raf Simons was appointed Head Creative Officer for Heritage American minimalist brand Calvin Klein for less than two years, beginning his tenure in August 2016, and leaving the position before New York’s Autumn Winter 2019 fashion week. Creative differences between Simons and the Calvin Klein brand led to the amicable termination of his contract early.
Although Simons's time at Calvin Klein was short, he produced some iconic work with long time collaborator and friend Sterling Ruby and the Andy Warhol Foundation. Ruby’s involvement with Calvin Klein was in the form of set design for the brand's fashion shows, and the Andy Warhol Foundation allowed the reproduction of classic Warhol artworks on various clothing items, from coats and bags and even underwear.
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE 205W39NYC COLLECTIONS & NAME.
‘Calvin Klein 205W39NYC’ is the name Simons gave to Calvin Klein’s high-end collection, previously called ‘Calvin Klein Collection’. The name refers to the address of Calvin Klein’s corporate office on Madison Avenue. His vision for 205W39NYC combined the iconography of the American Cowboy, Ivy League and Varsity dress, and an innovative boxy style. It was to be a future-facing collection which took cues from America's heritage and idealistic folk heroes and set a standard for collaboration still visible in Fashion today.
KEY PIECES FROM CALVIN KLIEN 205W39NYC
AW2017 Steel Toe Western Boots
Autumn Winter 2017 saw Raf Simons first collection for Calvin Klein, inspired by the fabrics of America which included Amish quilts, Denim and plastic coverings. Steel Toe’d western boots were a staple of the collection, combining functionality and luxury to create an evocative piece of footwear.
AW2018 Looney Tunes Distressed Knitted Sweater
For Autumn Winter 2018, the Belgian designer showcased an androgynous line of heavily patterned garments. The inspiration for this collection was developed from a list of fifty words, each representing one of North America’s states. “this collection is about freedom. A word that defines America, and Calvin Klein” stated Simons. Collaborating with Looney Tunes, Full-length textiles of classic cartoon characters adorned oversized knitwear, subtly distressed by the designer.
AW2019 Distressed JAWS Knitted Sweater
Spring 2019 saw Raf Simons pull film references most vivid in his memory, and combine them with his unique style sensibilities. The Graduate and Jaws were referenced heavily, with standout pieces emblazoned with the iconic Jaws poster, with the latest Peter Saville CK logo printed over top, layered under oversized tailoring. Contrastingly slim wetsuit-like trousers, and the odd Graufuate-inspired mortar board here and there, made for an interesting clash of styles.