Calvin Klein The Tribalism There Is Something

CALVIN KLEIN: THE TRIBALISM 

There is something about the look seen here from Calvin Klein’s summer collection that makes me think of basketball. Maybe it’s the proportions of the top. The rounded shoulder and the length in particular. I know that, usually, basketball players wear vests, and that even on them they’re quite long, hitting the top of the thigh, but on anyone shorter, especially a girl, they would probably reach to the knee, like the top here does. Obscuring almost entirely from view the skirt she has on underneath. It could almost be worn as a dress. Just a peek of pleated hem is visible, the pleats bringing to mind a gym kit. A cheerleader uniform, if you will. It looks like it could be modelled on the idea of a cheerleader post game, with a basketball jersey over her uniform. It’s not, but it could be. Wouldn’t it be amazing, though, if backstage, post show, when going through his list of inspirations for the collection, Francisco Costa had said Bring It On. “You know, I was just really inspired by Bring It On this season. I’ve been watching it over and over again and there is just something at the heart of it that really spoke to something in me. The rivalry between the two squads, the competition, was just really primal. Tribal. Two opposing tribes fighting for supremacy. I think it’s a message that really comes across in this collection.” Except that Costa didn’t say that. He did however mention looking at Jim Naughten’s portraits of Namibia’s Herero tribe and Peter Bialobrzeski’s shanty-town shacks of Manila. So there is, you could say, an element of tribalism here. Though it’s not a primal, warring tribal element. The women in Naughten’s portraits are dressed in Victorian-era gowns made up of a patchwork of fabrics. They look proud, almost regal, with fabric-covered, cow-horn-shaped headdresses. The square patchwork of their dresses echoes the patchwork of shacks in Bialobrzeski’s images. Each house is made up of tens of different materials and textures, creating the idea of a sort of 3-D patchwork, something that echoes through the collection. The collection is built up of blocks of different textures, each outfit a mini patchwork. There is snakeskin, cut into geometric shapes and put back together to create an almost-hypnotic print; strips of leather and silk are woven together in grids, the loose ends left hanging to create a thick, rich fringe; sheer organza is layered with nylon. Hems are left raw, unfinished, coloured threads poking through the edges of a black look, adding a roughness to the otherwise-polished whole. You could hang these looks on a hanger and suspend them from the ceiling and claim it was sculpture. Or you could claim that Costa was actually inspired by Bring it On, one of your favourite films and, in homage to both it and him, start your own cheerleading squad, one that cheers exclusively in Calvin Klein.  

Photographer: Jason Lloyd-Evans 

www.calvinklein.com 

By Natalie Dembinska