The new pop

See Raf Simons’ arty debut campaign for Calvin Klein
By Tempe Nakiska | Art | 8 February 2017

Richard Prince, Nuts, 2000 © Richard Prince

The countdown to Raf Simons’ debut collection for Calvin Klein is almost over, set to take place in New York this Friday at 10am. Now, to break the anticipation, the Belgian designer has released his first ad campaign as chief creative officer at the brand.

The imagery pays tribute to Simons’ dedicated art enthusiasm, a factor that has consistently run through his collections under his own eponymous line through to his time at Dior, collaborating with artists from Sterling Ruby through to Peter Saville. Here, it manifests as as a campaign titled ‘American Classics’, shot by photographer Willy Vanderperre and styled by Olivier Rizzo. In it, Simons challenges the provocative legacy of the traditional Calvin Klein campaign, placing models clad in simple and iconic pieces (underwear, jeans and t-shirts) in front of artworks by significant American artists. The clothing takes a backseat, artworks by the likes of Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, and Andy Warhol front and centre.


The campaign also debuts a new logo design, sneak peeked on Calvin Klein’s Instagram at the weekend. The design was realised with the direction of Peter Saville, the aforementioned Simons collaborator and legendary graphic designer behind many album covers released during the halcyon Hacienda nightclub era (think Joy Division and New Order). Seville drew from the classic Calvin Klein minimalist typeface, subtly tweaking it for a rebooted return to “the spirit of the original.”

Andy Warhol, Ambulance Disaster, 1963-64 © The Andy Warhol Foundation / ARS. Photographed by Willy Vanderperre at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

All together, the campaign suggests Raf’s vision for Calvin Klein will be about spotlighting its most iconic elements, and elevating them through other cultural avenues – like art. According to a quote from Raf posted on Calvin Klein’s Instagram, “It’s a celebration of Calvin Klein’s iconic underwear and jeans; acknowledging their status as Pop and showing them in the world of art.” This witty clash of art and fashion is second nature to Simons, and we can’t wait for what his full vision has in store for us.

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