What to Buy From Raf Simons’s Final Calvin Klein Collection

Some of us approach each seasonal fashion collection with an eager wallet and curious eye, looking to address holes in our wardrobe and in last season’s knits. And then there are those who take a much longer view, taking in each collection—each individual piece—as a part of a designer’s oeuvre, a historical and artistic trajectory worth preserving with museum-level attention. Collectors have bid on couture gowns at auction houses for decades now, but some men are now seeing that collectible potential as soon as something special hits the runway.

As we speak, Raf Simons’s final collection for Calvin Klein—Spring 2019—is rolling into stores and onto the e-commerce platforms of your choice. Though we didn’t know the Jaws-themed fringe festival would be the designer’s last hurrah, and Simons presumably didn’t intend it to serve as a capstone, it still takes on a certain historic patina. So if you were to approach buying from this collection like a real connoisseur, what should you get?

To answer that question, we turned to David Casavant, the 28-year-old stylist and collector whose archive has supplied Kendrick Lamar with Craig Green and Rihanna with rare Raf. He’s been collecting Simons’s designs for over a decade—who better to spot the hits?

First off, Casavant said, he approaches buying anything by Simons—whether it be Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, his tenure at Dior, or pieces from his own label—with a few guidelines in mind. In his work, Simons often nods at previous collections, either from the brand for which he’s designing or, most frequently, from his own eponymous label. “If I’m buying, I’m thinking about, is it a nod? Is it really interesting that he’s doing this nod? Is it the first time he’s doing this nod?” Think of the sneakers Simons has done at Calvin Klein, which borrow the heft of their silhouette, as well as a few colorways, from his Spring 2013 collection. That’s a nod.

Now onto the individual pieces. The Spring 2019 collection was tethered to the late ’70s horror blockbuster Jaws, a favorite film of the designer’s which also (handily) channels the Watergate-era paranoia Americans are feeling in the age of Trump. A number of the graphic pieces, from T-shirts to Simons’s signature oversized sweaters, are printed with the Jaws poster, or the blood-red opening title for the movie. But Casavant said it’s safe to skip these: “If I end up getting more generic things, like the Jaws T-shirts—which I’m sure was more of [Calvin Klein’s] idea of the ‘seller’—I end up getting it a few years later, just seeing a good deal on it on a resale site.”

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Instead, he likes to focus on things that are “really weird or rare.” And this means you may have to hunt. The show’s other muse was the late ’60s Mike Nichols film The Graduate; a number of the models wore mortarboard caps and graduation robes over their Jaws-y wetsuits and classic Simons oversized blazers. “I don’t think they’re producing The Graduate cap and gown,” said Casavant. “But that would be something I would hope an intern would steal, and sell at a consignment store where I hope I could buy it.” Of course, with Simons’s former Calvin Klein staff in mourning—they seem to have recently created an Instagram memorializing their brief tenure at the brand—one wonders if they’ll be able to part with the items they may have lifted.

Instead: “I like the big fringey necklaces,” Casavant said. They were almost like scarves on the runway, draped huge and spilling over models’ shoulders like western shirt fringe on Xanax. (While Calvin Klein has closed the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC flagship on Madison Avenue earlier this month, the clothing is available on Mr. Porter, Ssense, Totokaelo, and the other usual high-end suspects; here’s a fringe necklace at Neiman Marcus for $650, for example.) Also great: the wetsuits, which Simons showed done up like gummy, skintight overalls, or yanked halfway down, apres surf-style, with tank tops and/or blazers. “The wetsuits were cool because he did wetsuits in Autumn ’04,” Casavant said, referring to the Raf Simons “Waves” collection, an exploration of the seduction and dangers of riding a subcultural wave. This is a nod, in other words, to an earlier piece—and here, it works, Casavant noted. “In this case, I thought it was cool.”





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