Designer Raf Simons leaves Calvin Klein

Raf Si­mons is leav­ing Calvin Klein af­ter two years as Calvin Klein’s first-ever chief cre­ative of­fi­cer.


He re­port­edly had eight months left in his con­tract but the de­ci­sion is ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately. Si­mons de­clined to make a state­ment but Calvin Klein’s par­ent com­pany PVH said: “Both par­ties have am­i­ca­bly de­cided to part ways af­ter Calvin Klein Inc. de­cided on a new brand di­rec­tion which dif­fers from Si­mon­s’s cre­ative vi­sion.”

When the Bel­gian de­signer first joined the brand in 2016 af­ter months of spec­u­la­tion, Calvin Klein’s CEO Steve Shiff­man hailed Si­mons’ ap­point­ment as the be­gin­ning of a “mo­men­tous new chap­ter” for the brand. Si­mons pre­vi­ously worked at Dior and Jil Sander with great suc­cess. He brought a con­cep­tual and Eu­ro­pean flavour to Calvin Klein’s un­der­stated min­i­mal­ism. He de­buted “Calvin Klein 205W39NYC” at New York Fash­ion Week in Feb­ru­ary 2017 to crit­i­cal ac­claim, cap­tur­ing the imag­i­na­tions of many in­dus­try vet­er­ans and fash­ion crit­ics with its nu­mer­ous pop cul­ture ref­er­ences and skewed take on Amer­i­cana.

His ap­proach even gained him un­prece­dented use of Andy Warhol’s work for the SS18 col­lec­tion. Si­mons’ work with Calvin Klein saw him pick up three CDFA (Coun­cil of Fash­ion De­sign­ers of Amer­ica) awards, for both menswear and wom­enswear in 2017 and wom­enswear again this year.

Si­mons’ re­brand el­e­vated Calvin Klein but that was ap­par­ently the prob­lem. His high con­cept de­signs did­n’t seem to be com­mer­cially ap­peal­ing. In No­vem­ber 2018, PVH re­vealed that Calvin Klein was down a stag­ger­ing $21 mil­lion. The chair­man Em­manuel Chirico sug­gested Si­mons’ cre­ative vi­sion was re­spon­si­ble for the loss and even went so far as to call the de­sign­er’s re­cent work for Calvin Klein a “fash­ion miss”. For those who raised their eye­brows when Si­mons’ ap­point­ment was first an­nounced in 2016, this part­ing might have looked in­evitable. But for fans of the Si­mons-era, the ab­sence of his Calvin Klein col­lec­tion at Fash­ion Week in Feb­ru­ary will be a ma­jor blow.

Words: Aida Amoako
Photos: Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on Grazia