Raf Simons’ sequel collection for Calvin Klein was an ode to the silver screen and a reworking of its iconic depictions of American ideology. Aesthetic totems of Americana were redirected by the Belgian Chief Creative Director, producing an alternative ending to the quintessential narrative, with plenty of special features. A classically beautiful cast of models – including Kaia Gerber, making her runway debut – took the stage in a contemporary retelling of the Wild West. Subverting cliches, western shirts came in vibrant silks, trousers came slung around the hip and metal tipped cowboy boots retained the brand’s inimitable simplicity. But the on-screen archetypes didn’t stop there: Simons nodded to the teen queen cheerleader with dramatised pom-pom gowns whilst horror movie heroines sauntered down the runway in sheer (night)dresses.
Horror and Dreams
The plot twist of the show came as the All American beauty subsided to a little American Horror. Opulent fabrics were disturbed and distressed, echoing the beauty and violence of both cinema and real life. The sinister authority of a thriller villain’s suit was resisted with sumptuous flourishes and lumberjack checks. Singed leather created sophisticated silhouettes and splattered trench coats in blood-red hues called to mind that fateful final scene in Carrie. Industrial stamped rubber formed modern power suits, which complete with past-the-elbow gloves, channelled the Albuquerque protagonist of Breaking Bad. A constant dance between horror and dreams played out in a polychromatic palette punctuated with reds and yellows.
Life Imitating Art
And speaking of American icons, Simons enlisted the help of none other than The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for a unique collaboration of two cultural giants. Select Warhol works are screen printed on wife-beaters, denim jackets and other emblems of American machismo, constructed in part by Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider, one of the collection’s muses. The curation includes Knives (1981-2), Electric Chair (1964-65) and Ambulance Disaster (1963-64) taken from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, a body of work which depicts real-life horror and trauma captured in film.