Andy Warhol, who would have been 90 this August 6, was not just a towering giant of the art world.
He was also a key figure in the fashion scene throughout his career, and his influence on the catwalks continues to evolve.
Of course, it’s easy to think of the skinny, platinum-mopped guy in the black turtleneck and shades, Edie Sedgwick and other equally-iconic muses never very far away. That’s part of his legacy, but the real core of the legend resides in Warhol’s work, which keeps cropping up in the most unexpected of places… most recently, Raf Simons’ second collection for Calvin Klein.
Commentators were quick to point out how refreshing it was to get a Belgian designer’s perspective on Warhol’s unique vision of America. In this sense, Calvin Klein Spring 2018 was a depiction of a depiction of a depiction. Yet it’s not derivative, but fresh and even (yes we’ll say it) groundbreaking.
It’s not the first time a designer has turned to Warhol for inspiration.There have been collaborations between the Warhol estate and labels as diverse as Uniqlo and Comme des Garçons. It’s not even the first time Simons himself has turned to Warhol. His Fall 2013 line for Christian Dior featured a floral motif taken from the artist’s archives.
But the recent Calvin Klein collection took a deeper, darker look at Warhol’s body of work, blending it with references to classic horror films. Taking advantage of unprecedented access to estate archives, Simons decorated tops, skirts, bags, and more with prints from Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series.
There were reproductions of pieces such as “Knives” and “The Electric Chair,” which Sotheby’s described as “express[ing] the fractures and failures of the American dream.” There were also portraits of Sandra Brant and Dennis Hopper to go along with spray painted leather and elongated pom-poms which dangled somewhat ominously at models’ sides.
The combined result, as intended, was grotesque, disturbing, and incredible. When asked by Vogue, “American horror, American dreams,” was all Simons had to say on the subject of his Spring 2018 collection. He let his work do the rest of the talking. In turn, we’ll let the collection stand on its own as the most superb recent testament to the late, great Andy Warhol, whose spirit is very much alive within today’s style scene. — jas