Every season, a lot of items appear on the runway which are embedded with art. Each and every piece of art is chosen especially by the designer and so carries with it a hint of their strong willpower, and behind each piece exist the history and stories of each artist and brand. These pieces are special in that they were born out of the resonance of both art and fashion. It would be unfortunate if people were to wear them without realizing this fact. If you know the background behind an item, it will help you love the brand and the designer even more. We would like you to realize the joy of wearing these objects by learning about art through these objects of high fashion.
In the fashion world of today, there’s probably no designer who knows more about art than Raf Simons. For the brand named after himself, he laid his eyes on for example Peter Saville and Sterling Ruby, and has presented many pieces which feature their artwork. Even in his personal life his love for art is overflowing; in the atelier of his house is filled to the brim with all sorts of art pieces made by many different artists, notwithstanding their fame or nationality or even age. In 2016, this designer was announced to have been chosen as the new chief creative officer for Calvin Klein. The question is now how Raf, who was born in Belgium and had so far worked at places like JIL SANDER and Christian Dior, will give his own spin to one of the biggest brands of America.
As all the fashion lovers of the world kept a close eye, some images for the Spring/Summer collection featuring denim and underwear were released, leading up to the Fall/Winter collection. The campaign, called “American Classic”, featured artworks from artists known to represent America, like Andy Warhol, Dan Flavin and Richard Prince. To him, Calvin Klein’s iconic pieces like denim and its underwear line were already a part of American popular culture, which is why he decided to combine it with American artworks. The pieces for Calvin Klein made by Raf Simons opened with a simple but effective stance, that of using the pop culture born and bred in the big country known as America.
The following 2017A/W collection focused on America in an even straighter way. The artworks by American artist Sterling Ruby made a big impression at the venue, and the models walked around wearing American Trad, like denim combinations and cowboy shirts, while David Bowey’s This Is Not America was playing as stage music. This interpretation of America by Raf grew to even greater heights, when he launched the 2018/S collection which had a special place laid out for Andy Warhol’s artworks.
However, these weren’t the Warhol pieces everyone knows, like the Campbell Soup and the Marilyn Monroe pieces, but instead featured a series called “Death and Disaster”, of which a lot of pieces had never been seen by the public, which were selected portraits of for example art collector Sandra Brand and movie actor Dennis Hopper, who were close with Warhol.
Raf says about Warhol ‘I realized his talent wasn’t limited to catchy things like the Campbell soup cans, but went far deeper than that. Warhol had a deep understanding of all the faces of America. The dark ones, as well. His art, more than anything else, tells us the truth about America.’. To Raf, to whose life art is an irreplaceable part of his life, Warhol’s art is America, and to him America is something found inside Warhol’s art pieces. These pieces carry a lot of value with them, just for the simple fact that these items carry these artworks of Warhol on them that he personally selected. On top of that, some of them were never presented before, so for a lot of people these Warhol artworks can only be seen as a part of these pieces by Calvin Klein.
Unfortunately, Raf Simons ended up quitting as the Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein, but this gives us another opportunity to give another look at his extraordinary creation which presented us these valuable Warhol artworks through the lens of this brand called Calvin Klein.
Text_ Kana Koyama