The message could not have been clearer or more pointed: Raf Simons' debut collection for Calvin Klein opened and closed with the David Bowie song, This is Not America. "When you have a voice, you should use it," Simons had said backstage just last week at his own label's menswear show. And now, for his much-awaited bow Friday morning with new employer Calvin Klein — for which he has moved to New York — the Belgian designer was using his.
The clothes, too — designed along with the label's Pieter Mulier — were meant to display an inclusive message, sort of a melting pot of styles. "It reflects the environment," Simons wrote in the show notes. "It is the coming together of different characters and different individuals — just like America itself."
There were nods to the American West for both women and men, with denim jackets over loose jeans, or colorful cowboy-style shirts. There was sporty America, in striped woolen standalone sleeves — similar to the arm-warmers shown by his men's label. There were crisp business-like houndstooth suits, and there were coats in colorful quilt patterns.
For some flash, there were a number of garments — dresses, coats, skirts — encased in a layer of plastic, looking like cellophane wrapping on a gift. In one dress, the plastic shielded a burst of feathers in white, yellow and black. A golden yellow furry coat also had this laminated effect. Another common embellishment was a silver metallic flower, appearing on black leather jackets or sheer mesh tops that left little to the imagination.