Raf Simons is appointed Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein

©Collage / Oriane Baud

Raf Simons was officially appointed Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein: It’s a Match!

It’s a big role to take on, but one that this sophisticated Belgian will surely fill with ease.

Minimalism rose in the late 80s and through the 90s as an answer to the opulence of the disco era, but Raf Simons managed to transport it into the new millennium and there are few designers we feel as emotionally connected to. One reason, of course, is that his aesthetic vision is perfectly attuned to the needs of a modern generation of women. We strive for professional success and Raf’s clean, yet feminine, designs serve as the perfect wardrobe.

While women in the 90’s had to fight their way into the boardroom and fit into a male-dominated world, perhaps today we’d rather engage a bit more with our femininity as another way of disproving the stereotype that men are the better leaders. Simons understands that we don’t have to give up our strength to show our feminine side, and he proved it when he became Creative Director at Jil Sander in 2005. His aesthetic vision launched the brand into the 21st Century – and, up until that point, he had only designed menswear for his eponymous label.

He may have brought a playful note to Jil Sander, but he freed his next employer, Dior, from the excessive opulence of his predecessor John Galliano. He celebrated his appointment with the 2012 couture collection the first of his career. With his creations, he brought a traditional tailor’s craftsmanship to a modern aesthetic and caused a small revolution in the couture world in the process.


It’s not only Raf’s artistic vision that speaks to us. We also feel connected to the designer on a human level and can, in a way, identify with his professional ups and downs. Many of the problems he’s encountered have occurred to us as well. In today’s world, nothing is secure – and that causes increasing demands and may even very well be responsible for the symptoms of burn-out syndrome.

In 2012, Raf Simons lost his position as head designer at Jil Sander overnight and had to make room for the label’s founder. It was a shock not just to him, but also to his fans, who said goodbye with tears in their eyes and a standing ovation at his last show in Milan. After that, he had just weeks to prepare his first couture show for his new employer and win over the critics who claimed he wasn’t up to the task. Then there was his surprising exit from Dior last October. “It became complicated and I decided to get out. That is partly due to the system that fashion has adopted. It is speeding up and up. Every season I see so many things evolving at such a speed that I think certain creative people, including myself, are just not willing to do it any more. I don’t want to. If you work on that level, you miss out on a lot of things”, Raf explained to The Telegraph regarding his choice to step down at Dior.

Now, he’s taking over as the successor to not one, but two, creative directors. Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli left Calvin Klein Collection in April – the two were responsible for womens’ and menswear respectively. And as if that were not enough, Raf will also be responsible for branding at ck Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Jeans, as well as Calvin Klein. Nonetheless, the conditions under which he’s starting the job are good and could pave the way to a long and fruitful collaboration. At Calvin Klein, Raf’s aesthetic won’t have to bend to fit in.


In any case, Calvin Klein offers a certain amount of creative space that he must have missed at Dior. There, he wasn’t allowed to step in on the men’s collection, a labor of love for a designer with his roots in menswear. According to Business of Fashion, he had little influence on Dior’s brand DNA and barely had a voice when it came to campaigns or store fittings. That’s going to change now at Calvin Klein – he’s in charge of every department.

Will Raf be able to rise to the challenge? Yes! Because Calvin Klein announced that they will change their strategy, which seems like a direct response to Raf’s criticism of the current state of fashion. We believe that the label of our youth – never-ever-ever will we forget the ad that Mario Sorrenti shot for Obsession with Kate Moss lying naked on a sofa – will meet today’s zeitgeist under Raf Simons. His first collection is expected at New York Fashion Week in February 2017. We wish you all the best, Raf!

©Willy Vanderperre