Raf Simons’ highly-anticipated first collection for Calvin Klein has made its debut on the runway of the New York Fashion Week this Friday. Starting off the show with David Bowie’s song “This is Not America”, the Belgian designer has joined the circle of designers who have decided to make their shows a political statement. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially considering that last week when backstage after one of his shows, Simons said “When you have a voice, you should use it”, strongly hinting at the appearance of political themes during his Calvin Klein debut.
It’s important to note that Simons’ perspective on what’s going on in America is slightly different than that of U.S-born designers. It is one of an outsider, someone who understands how U.S.A should look according to it’s declared values, but also someone who sees that it currently fails to live up to them. The collection is undoubtedly an homage to America, but not the America of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. It is rather one of immigrants and diversity.
“Unity, inclusion, hope and acceptance: Join us at Calvin Klein in wearing the white bandanna.”
Is the message that Raf Simons is trying to get across to his audience, and he’s definitely not being subtle about it. “It reflects the environment […] It is the coming together of different characters and different individuals — just like America itself.” said notes distributed to guests before the show, written by Simons himself.
Unsurprisingly, the collection was full of American archetypes ranging from cowboy-like to 19th-century working class outfits. While almost every single piece included some kind of reference to American history or lifestyle, accessories were almost exclusively created to emphasize on CK’s roots, most notably the gold-fringed U.S flag. There were also multiple fashion staples of the past decades, ranging from feathered dresses and patchworked coats to sturdy denim, with the iconic Brook Shields ad from 1980 re-made into jeans label.
Multiple celebrity guests showed up to the show, in order to support the message it conveys. Sarah Jessica Parker, Millie Bobby Brown, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Bosworth, Lauren Hutton and Simons’ biggest fan, rapper A$AP Rocky, were just a few of many celebrities present in the audience.