Klein for The Win

Francisco Costa delivers a youthful take on Calvin Klein for Fall


The stars showed up, bare legged and in suede even in spite of the Polar Vortex’s crude return. And if they were expecting something akin to last season’s spectacular, multi-colored cross-hatch weaving work and the pants that were cuffed at least a foot from the floor but still touched the floor — which perplexed onlookers in the same way a David Foster Wallace sentence might stop a reader short — they were freezing in the wrong direction.

But isn’t that disconnect the magic of Calvin Klein at the helm of Francisco Costa, who last season successfully championed ten years at the house and this season opened the gates to a new decade brimming with decidedly youthful decadence?

Yes, of course it is.

For a label where old house tradition is imbued with a polished take on modern elegance evinced through streamlined pants that often elevate a woman’s stance, an important point of detail seems to appear in the absence of the aforementioned.

Instead, the clothes shown today took the form of predominantly mid-length skirts and dresses, though there were two instances where wide-leg culottes (close enough) were coupled with sheer knit turtleneck sweaters. This slapped a stamp of approval on a grand motif this season: hand-covering sleeves. And it only looks right because the shoulder seams remain in line with the women’s shoulders-in-earnest. This seems like a detail that might go overlooked.

For such a trend to run through a considerable number of collections could mean a number of things but in the case of Calvin Klein, it stands as a testament to the rest of the 90s influenced collection (doesn’t the decade belong to Klein anyway?) with its sheer underlays and fuzzy flared long coats, which mirrored the silhouettes created by Costa’s waist belts, maintaing the thick of Calvin Klein’s feminine spirit.

There were also Doc Martens shown in horsehair with silver laces. That no one has yet thought to cover the ubiquitous boots in a fabric that arguably defines the echelons of luxury with chain laces that make the layman cotton look inadequate seems to be another point of victory for Costa.

Frankly, though, where I’m most impressed isn’t really in the notion that when you see the clothes move, you have no choice but to follow them with your eye. Or, for that matter, in my feeling like when the show ended, a seminal moment materializing in my mind was being cut short. How does that seemingly plebeian fabric do what it does? Swing that way? Hold its shape? Why didn’t I think to put a thick tweed collar on a tea-length dress or tuck my hair (and bottom lip) into a short sleeve turtleneck as evidently, all cool girls do?


It’s fascinating that these clothes, all of his clothes, really, remain so obviously Costa — like they belong to him and have been so clearly created using his needle even when they’re not referential at all.

It occurred to me yesterday that I’ve been placing designers in two pockets all season — one for those who continue to create what they’re good at and another for those who test foreign waters to determine whether they can withstand the unfamiliar. Somehow, Francisco Costa treads the line somewhere in between, aware of his proficiencies and comfortable, unafraid to confront his purported deficiencies to create, almost every single time, a penultimate fashion week kicker worth trekking through ten inches of snow to see.

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  • i love when classic designers test the limits and aren’t afraid to change or incorporate new, trendier pieces but at the same time keep to their brands aesthetic. CK is always a snow-adventure worth plowing though.

    i write fashion columns.

  • Guest

    Hi Leandra! This is a bit off topic but what is that deep v neck sweater you have been sporting lately? It was in the Merceds Benz video and I saw it in a street style photo from this week. It’s so simple but so perfect.

    • Leandra Medine

      Hey! Those are two separate sweaters the one from the video is Max Mara and the one you saw from fashion week is by a new designer called Caroline Constas

  • cupcake6

    Beautiful ! Like a parade of giant comfortable well made sweaters.

  • Debra M

    Ann D was the first to have covered the ubiquitous boots … see her 2013 winter collection.

  • This show is very inspiring! A masterclass in how to wear the mid-length!

  • A fantastic collection of dramatic pieces with the grunge trend resurrection. Overall, great construction and textures. Some pieces are timeless and worth investing. Others just a bit too trendy.


  • Classic lines and a very comfortable style. This collection just makes me feel good. The boots go perfect with those midi skirts.


  • Rachel Hiller

    Beautifully written and really special

  • Rachel Hiller

    The boots! In teal!

  • Those fuzzy sweaters and coats are SO NorCal

  • Black is such a beautiful color to wear and loved all the fuzzy sweaters. Nice collection