It should have been easy,
Where did it go wrong?
When I read Raf Simons exited as head of Calvin Klein I was not shocked. After reviewing his first collection for the NY minimal brand. I felt relieved. Do not get me wrong. I am a fan of Mr. Simons. His looks for Jil Sander as well for his eponymous label were inspiring. The chic linear aesthetics are still personal favorites. However, after a brief stint at Dior, a mismatch in my opinion, Simons seemed a perfect fit to head Calvin Klein. Both designer and label embraced minimalism, clean lines. Sadly, the seemingly perfect couple never really bonded. Only after 2 years, 4 collections, the gig ended after broken promises lost in traslations cultural problems.
As I said, after seeing the first runway show, I asked myself, did Raf find inspiration in second hand stores of New York City? With a back log of creative references since the brand’s founding in 1968, there was a wealth of material to draw upon. “What comes between me and my Calvin’s? Absolutely nothing”, was the immortal slogan from Brook Shields. The 90’s were about Mark Wahlberg in his undies. CK has always been a brand about overt sexuality. Strangely, the Team Simons looks felt like a parody on the heritage, lacking elegance, a trashy commentary on modern style.
The rebranding with “Calvin Klein” adorned on every piece of clothing in an attempt for the streetwear market felt out of place. As the designs reached out for one type of buyer, others left. Not even a Kardashian campaign helped, sales dropped. Having invested millions, parent company PVH experienced a conniption seeing sales fall for a once iconic brand. Emanuel ‘s experiment of a cerebral designer, together with an iconic American Ready to Wear House became a failed project.
I am sympathetic to Raf. He is the latest creative head to exit a major house. Designers are burning out at a faster pace than in the past. The bottom line focus raises questions concerning creative workloads. Are the pressures of the modern fashion business too much? Desiging 6 collections in one year, over seeing accessories, press conferences, could tax the most energetic person.
Raf Simons will bounce back. The exceptionally talented always do.