Francisco Costa & Italo Zucchelli Out At Calvin Klein As Raf Simons Rumors Swirl

Courtesy Images by Danny Clinch for Calvin Klein

Perhaps his own women's line is not what Raf Simons has in the works after all. Maybe he's heading Stateside.
The revolving door of Europe's biggest designer brands has opened in New York today as the exits of both Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli (pictured left and right above), creative directors at Calvin Klein Collection for women and men respectively, have been announced. The company has indicated that all Calvin Klein products will be unified under a single creative director yet to be disclosed, while fashion insiders filled in the blank with Raf Simons' name, a rumor that has apparently been percolating recently. The new creative head will be announced "in due course” according to the company, which is in keeping with the belief that a non-compete clause in Raf Simons' former contract with Dior is delaying the completion of any transition until this summer.
While both Costa and Zucchelli have been credited with maintaining the fashion authority of the Calvin Klein brand after its purchase by PVH and the retirement of it's namesake, commercially, the Calvin Klein Collection business plummeted after Klein's retirement as the company turned its attention toward the newly introduced Calvin Klein White Label moderate line for profits and growth. The Collection lines remained beloved by the press, and Costa was a recipient of the CFDA award. The runway collections gained some traction in recent seasons as the parent company increased support for the neglected lines. Zucchelli's menswear has been embraced by avant-garde retailers like Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market, and Costa's womenswear has found its way back into Bergdorf Goodman, but not all the way back to the prized, spacious in-store shop overlooking the Plaza  it commanded in its heyday through the 1990s. While Costa has had great success with red carpet dressing, he often dressed his stars in simpler gowns that recalled classic Calvin Klein styles like the sleek red tank gown Jennifer Lawrence wore at her first Oscar ceremony rather than his own more complex runway designs, causing a stylistic disconnect for the collection.
As for Simons, his success at the modernistic Jil Sander as well as his own influential men's label and balancing of ornate and minimalist looks at Dior make him a perfect choice to lead Calvin Klein —if it's true.
We will all have to wait a few months to find out for sure, but the prospect of a Simons led Calvin Klein is a promising idea for one of New York's greatest designer brands.

Francisco Costa, Italo Zucchelli to Exit Calvin Klein, Raf in Wings? (WWD)


Is Calvin Klein Taking Over Bleecker Street's Manatus Restaurant?

The last place to get a full, well priced meal on the designer stretch of Bleecker Street bewteen Christopher and Hudson Streets closed last night amid rumors that a Calvin Klein boutique was coming in to take over the space. Not too many West Villagers sound pleased to say goodbye to the Manatus, a three-decade or so fixture just off Christopher that has reportedly been the kind of friendly (and affordable), neighborhood Greek diner that seems to exist only on TV shows anymore. The restaurant's demise was forewarned nearly a year ago by Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, which followed up over the weekend with the news that its rent would have been hiked up to $50,000 per month if it had stayed. Calvin Klein rumor also stems from the blog, and it makes a certain amount of sense that a designer label which would require a certain amount of room would jump on one of the rare large scale spaces on Bleecker to become available. As a remnant of Bleecker Street's only slightly humbler past, Manatus was something of an outlier among the fashion and beauty stores, but that's not to say that designer shoppers don't need a place to sit and have a nice club sandwich.

Now to Calvin. If the brand is indeed interested in (or even already in control of) the space, one presumes that it would be to open a new Collection boutique, which would be only other one in America besides the flagship Madison Avenue store. Francisco Costa's designs for the premium label have thrilled critics and red carpet denizens in the years since he took over for Calvin himself. Unfortunately, Costa's different design point of view, changes in production arrangements and the introduction of the mid-range department store Calvin Klein label have decimated the brand's high-end women's business over the years. New management at the brand and at parent company PVH has vowed to reverse this state of affairs and refocus some corporate attention on its top label. A brand new boutique in a hip location could go a long way to burnishing Calvin's status among customers. Keep an eye out for some signage on Bleecker Street to let us know more, and keep walking toward Seventh Avenue if you are getting hungry.

Manatus: Vanishing (Vanishing New York)


Minimal Disappointment Edition

25critic-span-articleLargeIn her roundabout journey through every major designer boutique in Manhattan, The Times' Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson gives an American Icon a fair shot at the Calvin Klein Collection boutique on Madison Avenue after having been lured by decades of the designer's sleek, sexy imagery.
When it comes to the Calvin Klein Collection of today, however, things are not exactly as one would have remembered them. In the Francisco Costa era, the brand's new parent company, PVH, has focused their considerable attentions and resources on launching the label's moderate department store line. While creative director Costa's runway collections have racked up the awards, they have languished at retail as Calvin's hard-core customers have turned away over the past few years. Our intrepid shopper finds that what was once an American Designer Sportswear mainstay is now styled more to appeal to Asian and European tastes and, unfortunately, bodies. Here's the verdict after trying a shimmery satin tank dress:
It didn’t give me the chrome hood-ornament effect I had hoped for. There was an asymmetrical bunching at one side that made me resemble a sock scrunched the wrong way down a combat boot.
A pewter cocktail dress:
It was a roiling mass of gray pin-tucks, swooping in conflicting directions for a crosscurrent-undertow effect. I was willing to be won over, but the dress was not kind. I staggered out to show [my friend].
“I am your lung after five years of chain-smoking,” I said in the affectless voice of a disembodied organ.
Shopping pal Johanna tries on a teal silk-jersey dress:
It was clingy in all the wrong places — too tight over the curves; loose and baggy in the middle — basically the problem I had with the things I tried on: knit numbers that had a kicky Zelda Fitzgerald look on the hanger, but on the body evoked the wrong years of Brigitte Nielson.
Word has it that the folks at PVH are now trying to bolster the flailing commercial fortunes of the flagship Collection label, but it looks like it may be a much bigger task than they thought it would be.
Critical Shopper | Calvin Klein: New Bow on a Minimal Box by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Calvin Klein Collection 654 Madison Avenue at 60th Street, Upper East Side

Racy Windows:

Another Day In The Greased-Up
World Of Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein's billboard at the corner of Houston and Lafayette streets has been a center of controversy for a while, lately featuring provocative and scantily clad images of actress Eva Mendes in jeans and underwear ads. For Spring, however, Calvin's space has been devoted, for the first time if we are not incorrect, to the top men's ready-to-wear Collection with an image that is bound to produce even more contention.
This month, the billboard features two images of model David Agbodji photographed by Steven Klein. On the right, we have David wearing a sleek, black suit, and on the left, David wearing only a generous amount of baby oil, bare backside and all. We're fairly sure that opinion will be split between those who find the image totally inappropriate and those who would like to see David take a quarter turn to the right.
Of course, it's uptown at the Calvin Klein Collection boutique on Madison Avenue where things really get kinky. The possibly NSFW image is after the jump...

Continue reading "Racy Windows:

Another Day In The Greased-Up
World Of Calvin Klein
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Billboard Watch:

Quick Change Calvin Strikes Again

Is Calvin Klein looking to have the fastest billboard turnover in SoHo?
Just a few weeks ago, some vocal Houston Street denizens started getting vocal about the sexy threesome (foursome?) depicted on the huge ad space Calvin has controlled for a while now, but before the controversy could reach any kind of fever pitch, the image was abruptly changed to sexy supermodel Doutzen Kroes as a latter day Bo Derek, emerging from the surf in a skimpy red bikini. Now, a scant couple of weeks later, the picture has changed again. This time it's Calvin's contract starlet Eva Mendes modeling the new "Body" jeans, a high waisted style apparently meant to be worn without a top, but with a healthy slathering of body oil. Who hasn't been waiting for that look to come around again?
Ad watchers assumed that the change in images last month was due to public outcry. It wouldn't have been the first time the designer had to pull jeans ads (Remember the Steven Meisel "basement porn" campaign of the early '90s?). In fact, it looks like this ad space is on an accelerated schedule that keeps each image in view for only a couple of weeks, so perhaps the sexy three/foursome had simply completed its brief, allotted time on the wall. If that's the case, then your time to see a giant topless Eva is ticking away.