Are We Expecting Too Much? Calvin Klein Offers a Different Perspective

For as long as I’ve been at this rodeo, the main attraction at New York Fashion Week has been a perfect storm of Marcs and Michaels and Calvins and Ralphs. But with Raf Simons at the helm of Calvin Klein, the week, which starts with him, pretty much ends with him, too. This is not because the rest of the clothes aren’t great; they are. But man, it’s so much fashion all the time. And no one seems to care that the spectacle seems pointless, or maybe it’s that they don’t know what to do.

Simons offers a pretty simple reprieve in a presentation that enmeshes clothing — both wearable and not — and art (Sterling Ruby has so far executed the decor for each of his shows). His perspective is unlike what else is out there. It acknowledges that the designer is supposed to decide what we wear, and not the other way around, but it doesn’t place too much emphasis on being so damn literal about the fashion.

My favorite sequences included a group of nylon jackets and skirts and impeccably fit dresses that will make for great cocktail attire and probably keep you from getting wet. There were also rubber pencil skirts, paired with matching fitted tops and elbow length gloves. The closing looks were tangled in layers of yarn and reminded me of the restraint with which Simons designs, putting on display the tension between his repeat blockbuster hits: button-down shirts and slim fit pants and shell turtlenecks and cowboy boots and those wild dresses.

I heard the owner of a speciality boutique gushing about the collection, but wondering if it would sell. To me, that was beside the point. We have come to know fashion as not just what you buy, but what you feel you must buy right now. That is not fashion for everyone, and if I’m being honest, it doesn’t really work. We need time! Even if we think we don’t. We need new concepts. Ideas that fly over our heads, ones that we might reject, snub, completely abuse before they quietly sneak in through the backdoor and teach us we were wrong. We don’t know what we want. The designer does.

Runway photos via Vogue Runway; feature photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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