Or, more accurately, an overhauled flagship store slash installation from artist Sterling Ruby.
Raf Simons was appointed chief creative officer of Calvin Klein a year ago—almost to the day—and in that time the Belgian designer has done just about everything one could do to overhaul the successful-if-stagnant house. A revamped logo? Check. Refreshed advertising campaigns? Check. A brand new aesthetic for the brand and one that delivers on months of built-up hype? Check and check. Despite all the newness that Simons has brought—and continues to bring—to Calvin Klein, there’s been just one thing missing: Simons-designed stuff to actually buy.
The good news is that the first drops of Simons & Co.’s renewed C.K. Collection wares (henceforth referred to as 205W39NYC, thankyouverymuch) are trickling into the world’s best menswear stores right this very second. The better news is that the entire Raf-imagined Calvin Klein Universe lives in one space—and its doors are open for business. The building is the much-admired John Pawson-designed Calvin Klein flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City, but what’s inside is unlike anything any C.K. loyalist, luxury shopper, or passerby even has ever seen before.
For starters, it’s yellow, very yellow—and yellow everywhere. The walls are yellow. The ceilings are yellow. The industrial scaffolding that does double duty as display racks and design element off which pom poms, decorative fringe, and vintage patchwork quilts hang are yellow. The reimagining of the once-sedate space comes from the brain of longtime Simons collaborator and artist Sterling Ruby, who decided to jolt the store’s three in-use floors to life with the “warning color of cautionary tape and traffic signs,” according to a press release. And in case it wasn’t clear from the glowing canary yellow interiors that this is a new era in C.K. land, you’ll certainly know from the racks and shelves which are stocked with clothes and accessories from Simons’s first 205W39NYC runway show (including those CALVIN KLEIN JEANS ESTABLISHED 1978 pieces) for men and women as well as a small selection of curated housewares and the brand’s newly-launched crisp white bedding.
“I’m taking the Calvin Klein flagship store from minimal to maximal,” said Ruby. “I wanted the store to glow from within, representing a new day for Calvin Klein.” But how long this new day will actually last remains to be seen. Apparently, the floor-to-ceiling installation is what the company is calling “an intermediary step…prior to a forthcoming renovation of the building.” If this is what Ruby and Raf Simons can do for some temporary digs, we can’t imagine—or fathom, really—just what the hell they’ll get up to when it comes time to make things permanent.
Calvin Klein is located at 654 Madison Avenue in New York City.
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