One of the most anticipated events in fashion, Raf Simons’s first show for Calvin Klein touted a multicultural vision of the USA, the Belgian designer’s current “hometown.”
In his first collection for the New York-based brand, Raf Simons has subtly reworked several classics of the American wardrobe while avoiding its clichés. Instead, the collection represents a celebration of diversity – a fact that earned it near unanimous praise from the international fashion press.
As news spread of a federal judge’s decision to suspend the US President’s immigration ban, David Bowie’s “This Is Not America” rang out like an anthem against the Trump era. Several designers even relayed the #TiedTogether initiative, as New York Fashion Week reflected a new America rising up to defend its freedom of speech, civil rights, and, above all, its diversity.
In the hands of Raf Simons, the American Dream comes in every color. On the runway, a wardrobe composed of striking block colors mingles with straight cuts, fine tailoring, and classic leather bombers for an upscale biker look. Outerwear pieces reveal plastic encasing for a delicate touch, while cowboy boots pair with suits to inscribe the collection firmly within American mythology. Transparency emerges in menswear and womenswear alike, as delicate feather dresses revealing décolletés combine with clear tops worn under suit jackets for men. In addition, the designer from Antwerp continues in his purist tradition with crisp cuts and clean lines seen in military shirts, pencil skirts, and classic trench coats, all while preserving the street and casual style of one of the emblematic names in mixed sportswear through loose cuts, knits, and athletic color stripes.
With this collection, the Belgian designer has penned a marvelous ode to contemporary America. By transcending the boundaries of mixed ready-to-wear and conveying a portrait of a multicultural America, Raf Simons’s first collection for Calvin Klein offered much more than a replica of the United States: it conjured up a landscape comprising a diverse array of portraits. In the designer’s words, the collection represents “the unique beauty and emotion of America.”
Photos: © Giovanni Giannoni for Calvin Klein
Written by Lisa Tomasi