Raf Simons, Calvin Klein’s new chief creative officer, has positioned the label at the center of a cultural revolution. It is now not simply focused on fashion, but on the arts, politics and national identity of America. There is a lot that can rise to the surface when an outsider like Simons takes a look at America — its messiness, it’s reality, cliches and of course the mythology. Simons had all of those contradictions and notions on display in his debut men’s and women’s collections at Calvin Klein.
The result was a captivating, ground breaking presentation that avoided falling prey to the current political climate of the day, and instead created desirable, inventive clothes by exploring the nostalgia our politics has stirred up. The models were noticeably diverse — a parade of young men and women of all shades with long, flowing hair, spiral curls and tight kinks. “It is the coming together of different characters and different individuals, just like America itself,” wrote Simons in his show notes. “It is the unique beauty and emotion of America.”
Raf Simons Fall 2017 “Imagined America” Runway Show
Raf Simons commissioned the Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby to create an installation mise-en-scene for the Calvin Klein show. The results were metal buckets and sheets of faded denim hanging from the ceiling alongside old cheerleader pom-poms and other detritus from a star-spangled America.