April 19 2016. It is announced that Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli are exiting Calvin Klein Collection. The creative directors “are leaving the company as part of a new global creative strategy unifying all Calvin Klein brands under one creative vision.” So the rumour mill churned.
August 2 2016. Raf Simons is revealed as chief creative officer of the historic label. As predicted, once his non-compete agreement with Dior expired, Calvin Klein immediately announced his arrival on their socials. Raf will have creative control over Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear, Platinum and Home divisions (respectively), as well as the Calvin Klein Collection ready-to-wear offerings. This level control is unheard of in the commerce-minded fashion industry in 2016—save for Peter Dundas at Cavalli.
The announcement that Costa and Zucchelli couldn’t have come at a worse time for the in-flux industry. The heart-wrenching moment marked the sixth and seventh designer exit of the year; Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent departure preceding them by two weeks. To offer personal interest, I lamented the loss of Costa, whose womenswear had inexplicably improved in a mere few collections. I’d never spoken favourably of his interpretation of the minimalist aesthetic, but fall 2015 marked a sharp change. A year later, Costa presented his final collection at the usual Spring Studios venue. The show, thankfully, didn’t contain the repetitive minimalism that punctuated the early ‘10s. There was an “urban” air, that in turn made things look more youthful.
Roos Abels kickstarted proceedings in a fitted tuxedo with a silk slip underneath—a mix of structure and fluidity. The show continued to play with that juxtaposition: sharply tailored tops with loose bottoms; well-tailored coats with large faux-fur collars teamed with floaty shift dresses.
In a truly unexpected turn of events Costa introduced print. Print! In another review it would be trivial to marvel at the fact that print was introduced. But Costa’s Calvin Klein Collection has been empty of print for years. How better to introduce it than an innovative way—printing lynx or skunk on leathers. Welfare is obviously on the mind of those at Calvin Klein. Luscious furs that lined collars, decorated straps and made entire coats were faux-fur.
With animal prints and furs making the cut at the show, Costa explored his Brazilian heritage in the collection with focus on ornamentation. Agate shapes filled purposely-crafted holes in dresses. The result is a decorative approach to the minimalist aesthetic that Costa has been pushing forward with new developments in seasons just past.
In recent times Francisco Costa’s show was the penultimate show of New York Fashion Week. Shown prior to Marc Jacobs, which rarely I saw live due to my slumberous proclivities, the show essentially closed out my NYFW coverage. I looked forward to Calvin Klein Collection from February 2015 onwards. The anticipation for Raf’s debut will be palpable (he’ll debut next February), but for now I hope Costa ends up designing elsewhere; I’d like to see more from him.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com