Raf Simons’ much-anticipated Calvin Klein debut took place Friday at the brand’s corporate offices in Midtown. While that might seem like an unusually tame choice of location, the space was turned into a total-room installation by artist and regular Simons collaborator Sterling Ruby, whose work is also featured prominently in the brand’s spring 2017 ad campaign released last week. The installation is said to be part of a trilogy, with part two being unveiled later today on another floor of the office, and part three debuting sometime in May.
An average runway show this was not, but such is to be expected when it comes to projects by Simons, who is known for his avant-garde leanings. What was noteworthy, however, was the reaction to the show on social media — there was a spike in hour-by-hour mentions of #NYFW from 10 a.m. (when the show started) to 1 p.m. EST, which directly correlated to mentions of Calvin Klein, according to BrandWatch. At the peak, at 1 p.m., there were over 5,200 recorded mentions of #NYFW.
As for Calvin Klein, there were around 800 mentions in one hour, as seen in the graph below — that’s drastically more mentions than any of the other popular brands showing today, including Cushnie et Ochs and Jeremy Scott.
BrandWatch found that Calvin Klein’s more than 3,300 mentions accounted for 39 percent of all designer mentions within the NYFW conversation thus far. What’s more, the discussion was categorized as almost entirely positive: 99 percent positive, to be exact. To compare, that’s not far off from the overall tone of NYFW mentions — 95.4 percent of those have been positive so far. Still, the tallied numbers are a testament to the strength of Simons’ infectious brand.
The collection he showed today, titled “Parade,” was a blatant homage to Americana — it featured remixed band uniforms, tailored denim and American Flag–inspired prints. Fashion’s go-to sound designer Michel Gaubert sent models out to themes from “The Virgin Suicides” soundtrack and, perhaps ironically, “This Is Not America” by David Bowie.
“It reflects the environment,” Simons wrote in the show notes. “All of these different people with different styles and dress codes. It’s the future, the past, Art Deco, the city, the American West … all of these things and none of these things. Not one era, not one thing, not one look. It is the coming together of different characters and different individuals, just like America itself.” It a timely concept if ever there was one — we’ve already seen hints of it this week, with brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Who What Wear sending models down the runway wearing white bandanas in support of the #tiedtogether movement.
In another forward-thinking gesture, the show combined the men’s and womenswear collections, the latter of which got an assist from creative director Pieter Mulier, who Simons’ fans will remember has worked alongside him since 2002 (he made a memorable appearance in 2014’s touching “Dior and I”). This is in step with the larger industry trend towards unisex runways — one that saves time and resources for everyone involved.