New York Fashion Week: Raf Simons sinks his teeth into 'Jaws' for Calvin Klein's spring/summer 2019 collection

Looks from the spring and summer 2019 Calvin Klein 205W39NYC collection, presented on Sept. 11 during New York Fashion Week. (Giovanni Giannoni)

Calvin Klein’s chief creative officer Raf Simons continued his exploration of American cinema for spring and summer 2019 by sinking his teeth into “Jaws” and “The Graduate” to build a men’s and women’s runway collection with a surfboard-meets-mortarboard vibe.

A connection between the two films might not appear obvious (it didn’t to me), but in his show notes, the Belgian-born designer writes, “[b]oth represent transgression, the idea of the predator, and a fundamental questioning of authority — a rebellion that is quintessentially American.”

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References to Steven Spielberg’s 1975 shark thriller included movie-poster T-shirts with the CK logo placed between shark and unsuspecting swimmer; scuba-gear shoulder harnesses speckled with red “blood”; wetsuit-style pieces — some with bib-like pieces folded down in front to display all-over floral and animal prints — and pleated skirts with ragged shark-bite pieces missing. (The show notes made it a point of thanking Universal Pictures and Universal Brand Development “for their partnership,” which indicates the use of the imagery and “Jaws” named were licensed.)

Looks from the Calvin Klein spring and summer 2019 runway collection on Sept. 11 during New York Fashion Week. (Giovanni Giannoni)

References to Mike Nichol’s 1967 coming-of-age film were on the more subtle side but for the actual academic mortarboards and graduation robes sprinkled throughout. They were seen in the form of tweed jackets, schoolboy blazers and boxy shawl-collar tuxedo jackets, the latter in pale shades of turquoise, blue and yellow.

A series of beautifully disheveled cocktail dresses married patterns plucked from textile designs of the 1950s and ’60s with folds, pleats and flower-shaped swirls that made the garments appear as if they’d been pressed between the pages of a book — or more appropriate to the theme, subjected to the pressures of the briny deep. The effect was heightened by the styling of the models’ hair to look as if they’d just waded in from the water’s edge themselves.

Since Simons’ collections (whether for his namesake label or Calvin Klein) rarely key into a season’s prevailing trends, it was noteworthy that a handful of pieces were served up in the week’s most high-profile hue — pink — including a pleated skirt, a chunky sweater and one of the aforementioned press-folded cocktail dresses.

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