The fashion world had a neck break moment last month when PVH Corp. announced it was pulling the plug on Raf Simons as the creative director for subsidiary brand Calvin Klein. The company announced plans for a complete reset including a name change for the Simons-created Calvin Klein 305W39NYC, a luxury priced sub-brand.
As a highly-regarded designer, Simons boasts multiple collections and pieces that are viewed as highly covetable among vintage clothing aficionados. To get an expert view on Simons’ time at Calvin Klein and his place in design history, we check in with New York-based stylist David Casavant, who manages an archive of menswear pieces mainly comprised of pieces by Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane and Helmut Lang. Casavants loans pieces for editorial shoots and events with pieces from his archive worn by king tastemasters including Kanye West, Rihanna and Pharrel, among others.
In the email exchange below. Casavant weighed in on the Calvin Klein/Simons falling out and finished with a list of the five pieces from his final season worth purchasing before the label disappears forever.
Snobette: Raf Simons launched his eponymous label in 1995 and thus has been designing for close to 25 years. Is there a particular time period, label or collaboration that’s viewed as significantly more covetable from the perspective of collectors? What is your favorite period?
Casavant: “The early ’00s Raf Simons collections probably have the pieces that cost the most. I love that period but also love around 2008-2012.”
Snobette: When did you begin collecting Simons’ designs and what are your favorite pieces by him that you own?
Casavant: “I began collecting when I was 13 or 14, so this was around 2004. I have some things like a big banner sign and a blanket, which aren’t necessarily clothes, but I think are cool.”
Snobette: What are your Simons’ grails?
Casavant: “Probably the bomber jackets and parkas from around 2000-2003 are what are considered his biggest grails.”
Snobette: Simons famously griped about Virgil Abloh in a 2017 GQ interview. Given Abloh’s trajectory since that interview, do you view Simons’ statements as misplaced or ones he should have kept to himself?
Casavant: “I don’t remember exactly what he was said, but I think he should be able to express himself. If he wasn’t into what Virgil was doing at the time he can feel that way and if anything maybe it helped drive Virgil further. If you don’t take criticism to heart it can help drive you forward.”
Snobette: Simons was brought onto PVH subsidiary Calvin Klein in August 2016. What was your reaction to the news?
Casavant: “I was excited to see what was going to go down. I actually also liked Calvin before. I liked what Italo Zucchelli did with the men’s as well as Francisco Costa with the women’s so it was sad to see that end but I was also was excited to see the next chapter.”
Snobette: What has been your view of Calvin Klein 305W39NYC?
Casavant: “I don’t think it got enough time to be fully fleshed out. It’s really supposed to be the incubator for the ideas to ripple out into Calvin’s more commercial offerings, but I’m not sure enough time was allowed for that to really happen.”
Snobette: PVH has made some very harsh comments about Simons spending and the lack of demand for his designs. Simons has stayed quiet. Why do you think Calvin Klein and Simons didn’t click?
Casavant: “I don’t know if we really know what went down but in my experience in the current climate there isn’t enough respect towards artists and to new ideas. We are in a time where corporate people are scared and that can enforce harsh limits on creative people that can also end up stifling a brand.”
Snobette: Did Calvin Klein pull the plug too soon?
Casavant: “It’s hard to say. A giant global brand needs years to really re-establish a new viewpoint. Also the world turned into South Park with the political climate, etc. right after he started there so that throws another wrench into the equation.”