New York Fashion Week may have kicked off yesterday, but there's only one event every editor and fashion enthusiast has been waiting for: Raf Simons' debut at Calvin Klein today. The constant conveyor belt of creative directors moving around the world's biggest fashion houses has been hard to keep up with, but Raf Simons' departure from Dior in October 2015 was one of the biggest industry talking points in recent times. His appointment at Calvin Klein last summer was even more momentous, considering he had stated that he wanted to take a step back to focus on personal pursuits: "It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and passions that drive me outside my work," the Belgian designer explained at the time.
Why, then, did he accept the pressure of taking the creative helm at one of the largest and most iconic American fashion brands? Well, as we all anticipated, Raf Simons stepped up to the mammoth task. Opening with a haunting rendition of David Bowie's "This Is Not America", the notes explained that Simons' first show was in fact "an homage to America". Entitled 'Parade', the collection reflected "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... It is the unique beauty and emotion of America," Simons stated in the press release.
Set against the backdrop of a Sterling Ruby installation, Simons' collection centred on beautifully cut tailoring and vinyl, as he presented elegant trouser suits for both him and her, alongside plastic-coated outwear, embellished leather jackets, reimagined American quilting, double denim, plastic feathered cocktail dresses and deconstructed varsity sweaters, worn with cowboy boots. The palette was bold and bright, with flashes of red, white and blue and ribbed midi skirts rendered in scarlet, fuchsia and green. Though accessories (bar a dainty cross-body bag) and the world-famous logo were notably absent, the front row was lined with famous guests including Brooke Shields, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomie Harris, A$AP Rocky, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Greta Gerwig and, of course, Calvin Klein campaign star Millie Bobby Brown.
Joining Business of Fashion's #TiedTogether campaign, the invitation to the Calvin Klein show came with a white bandana, affirming Simons' support for inclusivity in a time of social and political unrest. Yes, this may have been an homage to America, but this was evidently not heralding Trump's America. Instead, Chief Creative Officer Raf Simons and right-hand man, Creative Director, Pieter Mulier, celebrated the diversity and richness of a pre-Trump era, one many of us are united in reclaiming.