Raf Simons made fashion history at the 2017 CFDA Awards last week. The Belgian designer is the second man to win (in the same year), both the Menswear Designer of the Year and Womenswear Designer of the Year awards, for his Fall 2017 Calvin Klein collection. The first designer to do it? Calvin Klein himself, who took home both awards in 1993.
Simons had previously received the 2014 International Award for his work at Dior, and his new wins seal his position as one of the most influential forces in American fashion today.
America in fashion has lost its appeal. Brands touting the classic American style such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein have been suffering. While the experts cite rapid expansion and a drop in quality as problems faced, the difficult truth may well be that the world has fallen out of love with the moneyed WASP-y, life-on-a-yacht ideal that these brands have peddled for so long.
Raf Simons, whom Vogue hails as ‘the saviour of American fashion’ has had a stellar reputation of injecting new life into brands such as Jil Sander and Dior. (There’s even a movie about his 6-week debut collection deadline at Dior.) So when he took the helm at Calvin Klein, the fashion world waited with bated breath.
Raf’s debut collection at Calvin Klein promised a rethink of the brand’s aesthetic, with emphasis on individuality rather than the tired expected looks the brand has been criticised for of late.
Here are some of the highlights from the Women’s Fall 2017 show.
The brand code at Calvin Klein has always been American minimalism coupled with a provocative sort of sensuality. Simons and his creative director Pieter Mulier, riffed on Americanisms, updating the preppy repertoire with separates in a marching band solid palette, replete with edgy metal-tipped boots.
The Breast Part
Raf Simons sought to evoke Calvin Klein’s quintessential sensuality with peek-a-boo under-bust cutouts, maintaining its minimalist aesthetic with clean fluid lines and all-American classics like the Sheriff’s jacket lined with shearling.
Calvin Klein’s relaxed but sharply-tailored legacy is continued this season with muted grey plaid, generous proportions and relaxed silhouettes.
Simons takes reference from a well-known ‘Calvinism’, the high-school varsity bomber, but plays with two vastly different textures; thick jacket sleeves with sheer, chest-revealing torsos. We gather this is a play on the varsity movie trope with clothing as a metaphor, where wearing a fraternity jacket may act as armour for the hostile college environment, while for the most part, the students are largely vulnerable.
Denim of the Game
Denim could be the name of the game as far as the revitalisation of Calvin Klein is concerned. Jeans have always been a huge part of the Calvin Klein business, but they haven’t been popular with the fashion crowd for decades. We’re hoping that Simons’ influence will change their denim game, because while not everyone can afford a CK suit, jeans are not beyond reach and could be the new entry-point. With Brooke Shields’s famous silhouette stamped on the leather label on the back waistband of jeans, we reckon it won’t be long.
Still going with the high-school/varsity movie trope, we’re guessing the use of clear plastic sheeting in the collection is a rather far-fetched reference to The Plastics from the movie, Mean Girls. Vogue seems to think that the Belgian duo were referencing ‘the great American plastic couch cover, slipping transparent plastic over everything from plaid tailoring to a sensational yellow-gold fur coat and feathered cocktail numbers’, with the conclusion that while it is strange, the idea may just catch on.
By Maya Tan Abdullah
Photos: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv
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