NYC Calvin Klein boutique gets a creative do-over under Raf Simons
Calvin Klein creative director Raf Simons favored colorful creations for Jil Sander when he designed those collections – with minimalist shapes. At Dior, the shapes morphed, but color was still an important element At both, he expressed his love for working with fine artists. So now, at Calvin Klein since fall 2016, he's refurbished the classic modern Calvin Klein boutique on Madison and 60th by hiring L.A. artist and sculptor Sterling Ruby - an artist known for shape and color.
The store marks yet another chapter in the ongoing collaboration between Simons and Ruby, which dates back to the mid 2000s when they first began working together on store designs and then capsules for the designer's namesake label. Later Ruby's contributions again made their mark at Dior under Simon's tenure as creative director, most famously memorialized in the documentary Dior and I.
Since making his leap over the pond to Calvin Klein in New York, Simons has taken advantage of being in a nearer time zone to the artist and has already tapped Ruby for a number of high-profile projects, from the redesign of the CK headquarters in Manhattan, to ad campaigns, to the show decor for Simon's first CK show for the label in February.
The NY flagship continues the theme of the bright bold colors that have characterized the design partnership between the two. The 34 foot tall outdoor windows exposes interior bright yellow walls – on every single wall.
The original Calvin Klein store opened there in 1995, designed by British minimalist architect John Pawson. It had all white wools, stone floors – the only color in sight being “neutral.” This reflected the subtle aesthetic of Klein’s clothes. But when Raf Simon’s took the reigns at Calvin Klein last year, his first collection – fall 2017 – showed his love of color and whimsy. Now the new mega boutique reflects the modern pop design of the clothes – which Simons has dubbed Calvin Klein 205W39NY.
Known for large scale whimsical installations, Sterling Ruby says in the boutique’s first press release: "I’m taking the Calvin Klein flagship store from minimal to maximal; my design should be seen as a marker to celebrate the future of the brand.” Lots of bright red highlights the yellow; there are geometric forms in bright primary colors that form bases for shoes and handbags. Even the wooden hangers are red.
If it seems like a funhouse compared to its Pawson precedent – but that’s because Simons has complete control of all design for the brand – something he didn’t have at Jil Sander or Dior.
Sterling Ruby debuted shots of the wild new look on Instagram – and no doubt, many shoppers will flock there this NYFW to take their own Instagram selfies – against yellow walls. Ruby’s Instagram post read: “Though yellow walls and scaffolding are far from @johnpawson original minimalist scheme, it's weirdly exciting and of a piece with the new collection rechristened #calvinklein205w39nyc in terms of motifs like quilting, skewed Americana, bold color.”
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