How Raf Simons Captured The Calvin Klein Empire

by MR Magazine Staff

“Actually, nothing ever started with me in relation to fashion. Things started in relation to art and design and film and music. Fashion is the last thing that came in. It’s what I do now . . . but if somebody would ask what is it that you breathe that’s not air, but that’s what you need, it’s art. I have to see art constantly. It’s not even like ‘O.K., I’m going to look at art in the evening’; it’s all day long.” Thus spoke the fashion designer Raf Simons, in his first major interview since his triumphant debut at Calvin Klein during New York Fashion Week in February. The Belgian-born, 49-year-old Simons (pronounced as in “persimmons”; “Raf” rhymes with “laugh”) was named chief creative officer of the sprawling but stagnant $8.4 billion Calvin Klein empire last August, overseeing the women’s and men’s lines, jeans, underwear, home goods, and fragrances, as well as all aspects of advertising, marketing, and communications, a degree of control not in the hands of a single designer since Calvin himself left the company, a year after it was bought by Phillips-Van Heusen in 2002. Simons has long been the darling of the international fashion press, both for the avant-garde men’s line he has been designing under his own name out of Antwerp since 1995 and for the high-style revivals he pulled off at Jil Sander (2005–12) and Christian Dior (2012–15), so it was not surprising that his ascension at Calvin Klein was greeted like the Second Coming of the founding master himself. Read more at Vanity Fair.