Since taking the creative reins of Calvin Klein just over one year ago, Raf Simons has established a concise group of core design narratives that the Belgium designer has been expanding upon each season. These visual representations of classic Americana culture have solidified the brand as the quintessentially modern American fashion house, all while establishing a feverishly loyal fan base of committed consumers.
For spring/summer 2018, Simons’ second runway collection for the house, the designer expanded on key silhouettes and hallmark accessories introduced in his premier collection – tailored pants, denim, contemporary western button-downs, cowboy boots and quilts – further modernizing these creative narratives through novel fabrication techniques and a newly-established collaboration with the Warhol Foundation; an apt partnership symbolizing the genesis of two Western icons.
There was an underlying duality of happy and horror this season, most appropriately expressed in the pop-centric collection’s visual motifs and methods of fabrication – from fitted, monochromatic rubber separates to giant colorful pom-pom dresses; Warhol, himself, drew sizable inspiration from the concept of creative contradiction, often employing bright colors and the art of repetition to numb the eye to dark, at times tragic subject matter. Case in point, Warhol’s ‘Disaster Series’ from the 1960s, of which multiple images from this iconic body of work appeared on garments throughout the show. At closer consideration, the collection’s silkscreened motifs are the most obvious but perhaps not the most significant connection between Raf’s Calvin Klein and the Pop artist; both Simons and Warhol share in like methods of creation, grounded in their establishment of a trademark visual language from which they continue to build, all while maintaining genuine to their initial creative objective.