Calvin Klein is one of the most famous fashion designers from around the world. He first made a name for himself by designing clean and uncomplicated sportswear. He became popular by creating sometimes shocking and always news-making advertising campaigns.
Calvin Richard Klein was born on November 19, 1942, in the Bronx (New York). His grandmother was a seamstress and he acquired his love of sewing from her. His mother encouraged his love of art and fashion and he came forward with clean minimalist designs.
Klein attended the High School of Art and Design, which prepared students for careers in advertising and drafting. Here, the American designer was studying, sketching fashion designs, and sewing.
He moved on to the study at Fashion Institute of Technology graduating in 1962.
He spent 5 years as an apprentice in a coat and suit house on Seventh Avenue in New York City, working day and night to perfect his own designs.
Klein and close childhood friend Barry Schwartz created a Calvin Klein coat business. The first order was actually obtained out of nowhere, through a coincidence. A coat buyer from Bonwit Teller (a large New York City clothing store) got off on the wrong floor of a hotel. He wandered around into Klein’s workroom and liked everything that was happening there. She placed an order for $50 thousand – a huge amount at that time.
Barry Schwartz (left) and Calvin Klein (right)
Encouraged by favorable reviews from the fashion press and the support of store executives, Klein expanded his line to include women’s sportswear. Klein made a breakthrough into the couture world (fashionable custom-made women’s clothing). Therefore, Calvin Klein Collection for men and women, CK sportswear for men and women and CK jeans were well received in the fashion world. He also licensed arrangements for his menswear, coats, fragrances accessories, hosiery, swimwear, intimate apparel, eye wear, furs and socks.
Klein won the prestigious Coty Award 3 times in a row (1973–1975), becoming the youngest designer to ever have that honor.
From a modest start-up of $10,000, the company’s revenues escalated to $30 million.
The denim wear collection became a huge thing even after the launch of men’s innerwear. Klein opened more than 12.000 stores across 6 countries, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
He was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award. The same thing happened in 1983 and 1986.
Klein was listed on the International Best Dressed List.
A former avid night-lifer and denizen of the famed Studio 54, Klein has also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, having checked himself into a rehab center in Minnesota. He managed to get through it becoming even stronger as a designer.
His 3 major fragrances, Obsession, Eternity, and Escape, were huge successes. Ads of the mid-1990s featured young teenagers in provocative poses that many regarded as socially irresponsible. Klein eventually cancelled these ads, but not before the idea got into everyone’s mind. The designer managed to make quite a publicity.
Time magazine named Calvin Klein one of the 25 most influential Americans, not only in the business of fashion.
Calvin Klein sold his company, Calvin Klein Inc. to Phillips Van Heusen Corp.
Raf Simons has been appointed chief creative officer for Calvin Klein the brand, serving as the unified head of its divisions.
Calvin Klein Spring 2016 Womenswear Collection
Over time many famous models, actors, athletes and performing artists have been featured in Calvin Klein campaigns: Tom Hintnaus (the first Klein male underwear model), Antonio Sabato Jr., Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Brooke Shields, Djimon Hounsou, Kate Moss, Zoe Saldana, Mehcad Brooks, Travis Fimmel, Mark Wahlberg, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Natalia Vodianova, Carolyn Murphy, Eva Mendes, FKA Twigs and not only.
FKA TWIGS for Calvin Klein Jeans Spring 2016 Collection
- He was the first to design women’s underwear that looked like men’s jockey shorts. His television ads for jeans starred Brooke Shields who reportedly said.
“Nothing comes between me and my Calvins!”
- Klein’s design philosophy is minimalism and extreme simplicity.
- The colors used in his designs are natural, and rarely made exceptions. In fact, Klein best used neutral tones in his ensembles to give them richness and opulence.
- CK’s signature consists in tight-fitting jeans that gave him the cult status that he enjoys till date. The jeans revolutionized the way people looked at denim wear.
- Calvin Klein has influenced designers like Miuccia Prada and Donna Karan.
- The designer made a guest appearance in an episode of 30 Rock (a TV series).
- His imaginative version appeared in Seinfeld‘s episode of season four, The Pick.
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