For his final runway collection at the creative helm of Calvin Klein, Raf Simons incorporated cheeky film references, camp iconography, masterful techniques in tailoring, and elements of horror, in a finite show layered with mixed messages.
Staged in the ground floor space of the Calvin Klein headquarters at 205 W 39th Street, the collection’s eerie set proposed a duality between beauty and destruction. Large-scale video screens covering the three surrounding walls played an early scene from Jaws, detailing an unsettled seascape amid an endless horizon, while the runway’s blood-red carpeting suggested the possibility of horror to come; foreshowing, perhaps, the instantaneous demise of the fashion house with its creative director.
As the show commenced, Raf Simons’ film inspiration was on clear display. Models emerged from backstage wearing wetsuits and graduation gowns and caps, direct references to both Jaws and The Graduate, while T-shirts were printed with Spielberg’s iconic film posters, and Mrs. Robinson’s penchant for animal print showed up through dresses, wetsuit linings and cheetah print pants. Simons’ own directorial plot seemingly emerged within the collection’s oversized knit sweaters and the designer’s trademark methods of tailoring. Represented in the variety of sweater styles throughout the collection — ranging from preppy to bohemian — as well as skirts and dresses of varying lengths and fits, were ideas of fashion changing from generation to generation.
While the Jaws theme of man versus nature was eluded to in the collection’s blood splatter patterns, it seems the real theme here was high versus low art. Like Andy Warhol, Raf incorporates popular (or “mass”) culture with the “high art” of high fashion, while the incorporation of popular films, added an air of fun whimsy to an otherwise dark show.