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From antiquity to modernity: DVF and Calvin Klein

September 17, 2009

Though we left New York City some time ago, seeing the goings on at New York Fashion Week, via the World Wide Web, is leaving us a bit nostalgic for that unmistakable urban flair. We’re once again in love with grande dame Diane Von Furstenberg, or DVF. While we’re the wrong gender to sport her clothes, we’re hooked on her reinvention of civilizations past. (Just listen to her pronunciation of the word “antiquity” when she’s being interviewed by Tim Banks on Style.com, and you’ll get the  point.) Of course, there’s also the hot soundrack. Would’ve thought of combining Madonna’s “Erotica” and Debussy?

But the show we’re really waiting to see in full is Francisco Costa’s 2010 Spring collection for Calvin Klein, which just debuted this afternoon in New York. His 2009 Spring Show, with its architectural pleats and folds, made us think of a 21st century Jackie Onassis as well as Merce Cunningham choreography. The latter association arose not necessarily from the actual designs, but from the sheer angularity and modernity they embodied and the accompanying musical combination of cacophony and elegance.

In retrospect, it’s interesting to compare Costa’s work with the founder of the house whose house he was entrusted with, Calvin Klein himself. Looking back at his Spring 1999 and 2000 collections, we are awed by the sheer simplicity and minimalism of it. While some of the pieces seem commonplace today, a few are just stunningly simple. Light, ethereal but still utterly seductive, the last few dresses from the 2000 show still leave us breathless. While Costa has upheld the minimalism that defines the Calvin Klein aesthetic, there is progressively more play on structure and form.

Calvin Klein – Spring 2000

Calvin Klein (by Francisco Costa) – Spring 2009

In 2003, a feature article on Klein in the New York Times magazine proposed that Klein, while reinventing fashion into a powerful attitude, did not add a distinctive signature look to the field. Costa, however, seems to be carving a definitive niche for himself. While the look of crisply folded paper in a shimmering white may please the general masses, it certainly leaves a bold impression for those that 19th French novelist Stendhal once called “the happy few” of which Kaila Hawai‘i is thankfully included.

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