With shredded Stars and Stripes streaming from the ceiling (set design by artist Ruby Sterling) and David Bowie’s This Is Not America blaring, the political stance of Raf Simons was made perfectly clear at his Calvin Klein debut. As it turned out, the thrilling premiere of his post-Dior era also happens to coincide with a very precarious moment for American democracy.
With his stance shouted from the periphery, there was plenty of room on the runway for the clothes to tell other stories. And there were lots of them in this seamless mix of men’s and women’s, a nod to quintessentially American tropes ranging from Wall Street power dressing to western denims, varsity and biker jackets to the Arts and Crafts movement. Rendered in stay-woke acid hues, the show served as a reminder of the nation’s many great sartorial traditions.