As the fashion press and industry debate Raf Simons’ departure from Calvin Klein and where this most American of brands will head next, there often appears to be a central aspect missing from the debate—the work and worldview of Calvin Klein the designer. The hiring of Simons and the collections he designed for the house almost seemed a disavowal of its heritage—that of a brand built on a modern simplicity that expressly evolved to suit people’s real lives. With little time for fantasy and clothes as spectacle, Calvin Klein spent his whole career (up until the sale of his company in 2002) refining a message of simplicity, sparseness and sensuality that was wholly American and wholly new.

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