Ever since Raf Simons was appointed creative director in August, the fashion world has been waiting to see what he will do with the storied fashion house. And on Feb. 10, when he debuts his first combined men’s and women’s show for Calvin Klein, we’ll find out.
Simons is a boundary-pushing designer who made his mark with the red carpet crowd during his three-year tenure at Dior, while at the same time earning street cred for his eponymous men’s brand, which is popular with Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and others.
In his new role, Simons will oversee all aspects of design, global marketing and communications, and visual creative services at Calvin Klein, just as Calvin himself did in the 1980s and ‘90s, when he changed the American fashion landscape with successful licenses for underwear and denim, and famously sexy ad campaigns starring Brooke Shields, Marky Mark, Kate Moss and other pop culture figures. Klein stepped away from the business in 2003 and Francisco Costa was at the helm of the women’s runway collection only until Simons was named as his replacement with wider responsibilities.
The brand already has momentum with a new generation, thanks to a new marketing strategy put in place in early 2015, that put pop juggernaut Justin Bieber in Calvin Klein Underwear ads, followed later that year by reality show star Kendall Jenner fronting for Calvin Klein Jeans, and spearheading the successful #MyCalvins social media campaign. More recently, Instagram star Cameron Dallas has starred in ads for the brand.
It will be up to Simons to create one unifying vision that starts at the top with the runway collection, and filters through to the licensed businesses. And it will be interesting to see how that vision involves the next generation of Hollywood tastemakers.
Fashion’s current nostalgia for all things 1990s, including the classic Calvin Klein look of slip dresses and camel coats, plus Simons’ built-in celebrity draw and ease with the hot category of streetwear should give the new collection a boost. And no doubt, the runway show will have one hell of a front row.