Friday 8th September

| BY Jack Moss

Calvin Klein 205W39NYC: Ready-to-Wear SS18

Raf’s sophomore outing at Calvin Klein and we’re prompted to quote that age old adage (Beyoncé lyric) – was this a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare? A bit of both, as it goes, because, following on from his first collection for the American powerhouse, which drew on a multitude of American inspirations, this one began with perhaps the biggest institution of them all – Hollywood. More specifically – horror flicks. “It’s about American horror and American beauty,” says Raf. “Fashion tries to hide the horror and embrace the beauty. But they are both part of life. This collection is a celebration of that: a celebration of American life.”

In the clothes, this meant a re-exploration of American archetypes – the Western uniform, here re-figured in silky textures, with pom-poms flung on the waist, or denim two-sets splashed with paint. For men, lumberjack checks and a boxy silhouette described on the notes as “industrial”. But this time something sinister lurked beneath (and above, where axes hung from the ceiling, part of the installation by artist Sterling Ruby) – rubbery jackets and matching shoes could have been splattered with blood, whilst fishnets, silk slips and rubber spoke of a transgressive sort of sexuality.

Works by Andy Warhol, a collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation, were printed onto t-shirts and bags – Raf choosing the darker side of the artist’s oeuvre – Knives, The Electric Chair, The Ambulance Disaster. But with horror came beauty – gowns that twisted around the model’s necks were seductive, so too the lace that was revealed from beneath a transparent overlay. Together, it was the kind of masterwork that one has come to expect from Raf – a glorious imagining of America through an outsider’s eyes.

Photos by Jason Lloyd Evans