Raf Simons is inspired by celluloid dreams and horrors

By on September 8, 2017


Raf Simons, the new star of American fashion since his debut collection in February for Calvin Klein, continued to refine his take on traditional Americana, with cowboy looks, quilts and pompoms. Simons also looked to Hollywood movies — and to Andy Warhol — for inspiration. Heidi Klum was at Fashion Week, not as a judge or model but as a budding designer. (Photo: Calvin Klein/Facebook)
Raf Simons, the new star of American fashion since his debut collection in February for Calvin Klein, continued to refine his take on traditional Americana, with cowboy looks, quilts and pompoms. Simons also looked to Hollywood movies — and to Andy Warhol — for inspiration. Heidi Klum was at Fashion Week, not as a judge or model but as a budding designer. (Photo: Calvin Klein/Facebook)

NEW YORK — Raf Simons, the new star of American fashion since his debut collection in February for Calvin Klein, continued to refine his take on traditional Americana, with cowboy looks, quilts and pompoms. Simons also looked to Hollywood movies — and to Andy Warhol — for inspiration. Heidi Klum was at Fashion Week, not as a judge or model but as a budding designer.

POMPOMS, COWBOY SHIRTS AND CELLULOID: AMERICANA AT CALVIN KLEIN

With his debut collection for Calvin Klein in February, Raf Simons injected an adrenaline rush of excitement into not only the storied brand, but American fashion itself.

So naturally, anticipation was high for what he would produce the second time. On Thursday night, he delivered a bold meditation on beauty and horror, dreams and nightmares — as expressed in classic American cinema.

In front of a celebrity-packed crowd that included Lupita Nyong’o, Brooke Shields, Kate Bosworth, Mahershala Ali, Trevor Noah, Christina Ricci and Paris Jackson, Simons began with his familiar multi-colored cowboy-style shirts and trousers, paired with cowboy boots.

He continued with brightly colored skirts and dresses in shiny, rubbery fabrics, and he paid homage to pop art with classic Andy Warhol photo prints — like the face of actor Dennis Hopper (in a cowboy hat) on a tank top.

There were dressier looks, too, in the form of full skirts, capes and roomy coats, some with a splattered-paint print — or was it meant to evoke blood from a horror film? (Simons’ designing partner, Pieter Mulier, said “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was a reference point.)

And there were pompoms galore, evoking cheerleaders and high school. For the men, the pompoms were an accessory hanging from a keychain or a bag. For the women, there were pompom handbags, and even entire dresses made of them.

In the middle of the soundtrack was a solitary line from the David Bowie song, “This is Not America” — the same song that both opened and closed Simons’ February debut show. At the time, the designer had acknowledged it was a political commentary.

“Some things are getting worse,” opined Mulier backstage.

As for Simons, he explained that he’d been thinking “about where we are with fashion,” and felt the field had lost its sense of daring. His sense of adventure is one of the reasons he’s been received in New York like a conquering hero, winning Council of Fashion Designers of America awards for both menswear and womenswear this year — a rare feat.

He said he wanted to portray both dreams and the nightmares as embodied in American cinema. “Beauty and horror cannot exist without each other,” he said.

Among the models was a notable name making her runway debut: Kaia Gerber, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, who knows her way around a Calvin Klein runway. Gerber wore satiny yellow trousers and a black-and-white cowboy shirt.

Making his own debut — not on the runway, but as a fashion show attendee — was Ali, Oscar winner for “Moonlight.” He said he had an affinity for fashion, despite never having seen a show. But, he added, he didn’t see himself getting too deep into the business.

“If it happens in an organic way, maybe,” said Ali, who appeared in a Calvin Klein underwear ad with other “Moonlight” stars earlier this year. “I really just want to do great work as an actor.”

Also attending his first fashion show was Comedy Central host Trevor Noah. “I got it, I really understood it,” Noah said happily afterward, adding that the Warhol prints were among his favourites.

—Jocelyn Noveck

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SUPERMARKET CHIC FROM HEIDI KLUM

Add this to your grocery list: A leopard print pantsuit and sequin bomber jacket from supermodel Heidi Klum.

The “Project Runway” and “America’s Got Talent” judge showed off talent of her own with a new collection to be sold at the international supermarket chain Lidl.

“My inspiration was New York City. New York City to me was always the urban jungle. … In the jungle you find animals. You find leopards,” said Klum about the line, which includes lace and animal prints. “I feel like I can give women the opportunity to try and be a little wilder if they want to.”

She presented the collection, called Esmara by Heidi Klum: Heidi & The City, with a colorful, grocery store-themed party. The midtown space was decorated with shelves of dairy and detergents as models walked a giant checkout counter-style conveyor belt.

“I’ve never shown my own clothes so I’m super proud today!” Klum beamed in an interview during the event. “I’ve designed over 85 pieces and starting next week we will be in 10,000 stores in over 30 countries around the world. So it’s just mind blowing.”

Klum said she does her own grocery shopping, but doesn’t always look as glamorous as her models while perusing the produce isle.

“No, I don’t get super dressed up,” she said. “To me, fashion is my mood in the morning and I have the opportunity in the morning to choose what my day is going to be like. And for me, if I wear a power suit, for example like this suit, I feel like I exude power. I feel more powerful. If I’m schlumpy, I don’t feel like I can make things happen.”

Most items range from $6.99 to $29.99 and will be available in Lidl stores starting Sept. 21.

Some of Klum’s models looked ready for a night out in black lace dresses, fitted suits or shinny miniskirts. But most looks were better suited for a casual Friday in skinny jeans, a cozy leopard hoodie, a patch-work poncho or a denim jumpsuit.