In 1996, Calvin Klein tapped the late American artist Dan Flavin to illuminate his flagship store on Madison Avenue with a series of his signature spare light installations—or “proposals,” as he preferred to call them—altogether making for an installation called “untitled.” And so, two decades later, when it was Raf Simons‘s turn to take over the brand and pay homage to its namesake designer, one of his first moves was recreate the installation—effectively lighting the way for the new era of the storied American house.
Now that Simons has more than established himself—this year alone, he’s already owned his debut season in New York, inspired an A$AP Rocky single, and rolled out an internet-breaking campaign starring the cast of Moonlight—he’s also ready for his next stage—one that of course comes with a redecoration, too.
After having tapped his long-time collaborator, the L.A. artist Sterling Ruby, to create the set for his debut Calvin Klein Collection show and decorate the brand’s Midtown offices—right down to the splattered paint-covered bed for Simons’s beloved dog, a giant Beauceron name Luca—he’s also enlisted Ruby to once again give the Calvin Klein flagship a makeover, as was unveiled last week.
Unlike most establishments on Madison Avenue, the store now seems to be part bright yellow, scaffolding-filled jungle gym and part kunsthalle, filled with vintage quilts, ceramics by Rose Cabat, mugs by Homer Laughlin, and, in a very Vetements-like bedroom move, even a mattress cozily laid out on the floor. Oh yeah, and there are the brand’s actual offerings of clothing and accessories, with individual pairs of underwear hung so carefully they’re practically artworks in and of themselves.
In many ways, the flagship also nods to Ruby’s denim and shredded American flag-printed fleece-filled set for Calvin Klein Collection’s Fall 2017 show, with trappings of Americana and more oddities like the empty metal buckets that also hung from Simons’s ceiling back in February. “We’re talking about a kind of American synthesis here,” Ruby said at the time of the show, which came just weeks after the inauguration of Donald Trump. “We’re thinking about how to redefine American culture, particularly at a time like this. And intervene with both art and fashion, in a way that’s hopefully not been done. We had to figure out different ways to put a critique in a meaningful way, but also in a subtle way.”
And while bright yellow is in no way subtle, one thing’s for sure: It’s definitely catching eyes on Instagram. See some of the best shots of the store, here.
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