There may be no more anticipated Fall 2017 product arrival on its way than Raf Simons'first runway collection for Calvin Klein. New creative directors like to make an impression and show transition. Simons, the Belgian wunderkind who stabilized Jil Sander after a revolving door of designers including the label's namesake herself and similarly revamped Christian Dior after the unplanned exit of John Galliano, is remaking the iconic American fashion label in his own way with slow, deliberate changes that are quietly surfacing to be discovered spontaneously. The latest step in the turn-around of this ocean liner can be seen in a new music video for the song "I Dare You" by The xx (watch above), a cool band chosen in the hopes that an equal degree of coolness will be conferred upon the Calvin Klein brand. Along with the band members, the video features Simons' newest choices for his brand ambassadors including Paris Jackson, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown and Moonlight star Ashton Sanders (who has already appeared in a Calvin Klein Underwear campaign with his co-stars) alongside models Lulu Tenney and Ernesto Cervantes who have appeared in Simons first runway show for the brand as well as in subsequent ads. Though the Alasdair McLellan directed video is not presented as the kind of "Fashion Video" that Tom Ford did with Lady Gaga and a gaggle of top models a few seasons ago in lieu of a runway show, everyone in it is dressed by Simons in items from either the Jeans or Underwear lines or recognizable looks from the main collection, now re-dubbed CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC (caps, apparently, mandatory). End credits confirm the collaboration, and identify the cast members.
Simons' new concepts for the brand are making themselves visible in other ways as well. Macy's, a major retail outlet for the brand, has unveiled a new selling space for the Calvin Klein Jeans line on the third floor of the men's department (pictured above and below), featuring an intriguing combination of industrial concrete and royal blue curtains. It is unclear if any new product designed under Simons' direction has arrived in the store, but the shop is marked by his new, all-caps logo for the brand, and the designer's earliest advertisement images featured vintage jeans from the company archives, indicating that updating the denim division is a priority.
Elsewhere in the store, eagle eyes will notice that the moderate white label apparel collection is being identified with a tweaked version of the previous logo, or, shall we say, an un-tweaked version of the original logo that was subtly updated in the early 1990s. 25 years later, Simons seems to be reviving that original, iconic font for the widely distributed department store lines including underwear which will allow for retaining that famous Calvin Klein elastic waistband without much change, creating some continuity with the company's largest customer base.
As for the high profile runway line, it is just getting to be about time for it to start arriving in, if reports are accurate, substantially more stores than have recently been carrying it.
Once a strong mainstay of designer floors in nearly every upscale department store, the collection diminished in distribution dramatically over the past 15 years despite critical acclaim for previous designer Francisco Costa. The longstanding in-store boutiques in Bloomingdale's and Bergdorf's are now long gone, and while Saks Fifth Avenue continued to maintain a sparsely stocked Calvin Klein Collection boutique, that particular store is undergoing a massive renovation, so it remains to be seen if and where a new in-store shop will appear. Will Bergdorf's, which was once home to one of Calvin's most successful in-store boutiques, find a new dedicated location for Simons latest efforts after great success with his work at both Dior and Sander? We may find out in just a few months. In the meantime, for anyone who wants to check out the debut runway looks more closely, Bergdorf's, Saks, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York are all featuring the 205W39NYC women's collection for pre-order on their websites —with Barneys featuring the men's line as well. Though the single remaining Calvin Klein freestanding boutique on Madison Avenue and 60th street has updated the logo on its marquee, the last time we walked by, we saw no merchandise in the windows at all, and it appeared that, like the rest of us, it too was waiting to fully transition into the new Raf Simons era of its brand. It may only be days away.