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10 ways Raf Simons shook up Calvin Klein: What we'll miss most from the Belgian designer's short tenure

10 ways Raf Simons shook up Calvin Klein: What we'll miss most from the Belgian designer's short tenure

Another one bites the dust

Text: Ryan Sng


In case you missed it, Calvin Klein parted ways with Raf Simons over the weekend. The internet is rife with speculation over where the celebrated designer will land next, and who'll take up the top job at the beleaguered American brand; before looking ahead, though, we decided to take a walk down memory lane to appreciate Simons's most significant contributions to the CK legacy.

Colour blocking
Not exactly earth-shattering but, for better or worse, high-contrast colour blocking was one of the most distinctive ways in which Simons diverged from the Calvin Klein house DNA.

Maximalist madness
Ditto these amazing feathered and fringed numbers.

Big-ass bows
A decorative bow is the very definition of superfluous design, and in the context of designing under the Calvin Klein name, it was practically a "f*ck you" to minimalism purists. Who knew Raf Simons had an awesome petty side?

Double-breasted suits
It would have been so easy to go down the path of least resistance when it came to suits, but we're glad Simons pushed double-breasted jackets as hard as he did. That second row of buttons, just as nonfunctional as a satin bow, was a nice middle finger to fragile masculinity.

Prettified utilitarianism
Construction site fixtures like protective tarps, rubber sheets and spray-paint served as the starting point for some strikingly ladylike looks from the designer. Spins on utilitarian fashion generally veer towards the prosaic, and Simons's polished take stood high above the rest as a result.

Europeanised Americana
Simons's outsider-looking-in take on American myths like the Wild West was terribly effective: stripped of all nostalgia and boiled down to a few key details, the Belgian designer's flattened, Pop cowboys were like none we'd ever seen before.

Uncharacteristically pretty evening dresses
Sure, his late-stage collections at Jil Sander and entire stint at Christian Dior were a prolonged exploration of ladylike, Golden Age couture. Few, however, expected Simons to carry those references with him to the minimalist altar of Calvin Klein, which was initially considered a 'better' fit for the designer's streetwear credentials than Dior was.

Rehabilitated satin
The lustrous fabric has been many a designer's waterloo, and public approval of it traditionally hovers in single-digit percentages (curse you, cheap poly satin). But Simons leaned heavily into the nightmare textile, and we must admit, it sort of worked in a so-bad-it's-good way.

Sensory overload
Simons threw together chunky homespun knit, clear PVC and all sorts of other textures in some of the least Calvin Klein looks imaginable. Tasked with reinventing the minimalism wheel, Simons commendably did his own thing.

Turtlenecks
So maybe this one didn't take off like the designer expected... But it was the effort that mattered. Carolyn Bessette would have been proud.

Tasteful underboob
Who knows? Given a few more seasons to push the agenda, Simons could have made inverted cleavage the next big thing. Ah, the cruel hand of fate.

Alek Wek

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