Early last week, after months of speculation and rumors, famed designer and former Creative Director for Christian Dior Raf Simons was appointed Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein and was given full creative authority over the all of the brand’s various lines. Though the move was anticipated after Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli left their positions as Creative Directors for Calvin Klein’s women’s and men’s lines respectively, the appointment is a landmark change for the fashion house, which has not had a single person overseeing all creative choices since Mr. Calvin Klein headed the entire operation himself.
Devotees of Mr. Simons’s eponymous brand and fans of Calvin Klein, though, are scratching their heads. Their response is understandable — thematically, there seems to be little overlap between Calvin Klein’s all-American, more traditional lifestyle clothing and the Belgian designer’s relatively experimental work. While the former brand made a name for itself by producing underwear and popularizing skinny jeans, since the latter broke onto the scene in the 90s it has created many dramatic and iconic pieces, such as this strapped bomber jacket from 2003, which are certainly striking but not quite accessible to most of Calvin Klein’s target demographic.
Look hard enough, though, and the similarities between some of Simons’s work and Calvin Klein’s past collections become apparent. Specifically, the women’s clothing that Raf produced over the course of three years at Dior is somewhat compatible with his new employer’s aesthetic. In Dior’s Fall 2015 collection, the line showcased classic, flattering silhouettes with accents in the form of subtler details, not overall shapes. There were short black dresses and cropped pant suits spiced up with animal prints on mid-calf boots. Fabrics of many different patterns and textures popped up on dresses and tops but the outerwear was mainly comprised of long coats in traditional textiles.
It is still unclear what direction Simons aims to take Calvin Klein in, but no matter which he chooses, he is certainly in a good position. If he decides to take more creative liberties with the men’s line, he has a good shot at capturing a younger, urban consumer base that holds his name in high regard but has been previously disinterested in Calvin Klein’s offerings. On the other hand, if Calvin Klein continues to deliver safe, accessible clothing, the company can continue to enjoy revenue from its longtime demographic while Raf can keep up his innovative work within his own eponymous brand.
What do you think the future holds for Raf and Calvin Klein? Comment here or on Twitter @BillChangNY