By now, we've all had enough time to see the Instagram #frow shots and backstage previews from Calvin Klein's Autumn/Winter 2017 show, presented on Friday at New York Fashion Week. This season marked new Artistic Director (and former Dior frontman) Raf Simons' runway debut for the iconic American brand, and to say that it was highly anticipated would be an understatement.
After watching the collection in motion, I was noticeably struck by the way, predictably, Raf has pushed Calvin Klein towards a stronger, more editorial aesthetic, guiding the brand into a high fashion domain. Given his background as an avant-garde grunge designer under his eponymous menswear label, a minimalist at Jil Sander, and a master of spectacle for Dior, it should come as no surprise that his vision had such an impactful effect. In fact, the combination of these various influences was on full display throughout the show by means of sharp, androgynous tailoring and strong prints that reminded us particularily of his most recent days at Dior.
What perhaps deserves the most attention however (or perhaps not, given that its understatedness is arguably normalizing), is the manner in which this collection truly had an ungendered point of view. Combining the brand's menswear and womenswear lines into one show, Raf often paired identical pieces and even full looks on models of different gender identities, dismantling connotations of specific gender assignments from the clothes themselves. Likewise, it is somewhat of a 'risk' for a commercial brand like Calvin Klein to #freethenipple, and yet this collection seemed to do it effortlessly. In fact, the sheer sweaters and blouses shown alongside well-tailored, business-like cigarette pants, seemed to be devoid of sexualization at all, arguably a chief aim of the #freethenipple movement. Men and women wore the same pieces, with the same results, and no visible effort to eroticize female 'nudity,' if it could even be classified as such. It would be worth watching whether Raf will consider leading the fashion set in doing away with the 'menswear' and 'womenswear' labels altogether, especially given the fact that the collection was entirely aesthetically unified already.
We look forward to seeing more from one of fashion's favourite forces in seasons to come. What did you think of this new direction for CK?
Main Image c/o Calvin Klein