Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein


Good evening. Good evening and welcome. It’s a great pleasure
to see you all here and it’s really
a wonderful honor to have Mr. Klein here with us. I think, given the fact that
there’s so many of you here and there’s so many amazing
people who are actually outside who can’t get in,
I think that I don’t really need to make an introduction. Because I suspect all of
you know Calvin Klein, know his work,
appreciate his work. He’s clearly one of the
icons of the fashion industry and has done so many amazing
things over the years. And we all know about
his contribution to the fashion industry. Perhaps something that maybe
many others don’t know so well how about Mr. Klein’s
work is really his commitment, his
interest from very early on in the relationship
between fashion and situation or fashion and the setting. And this setting can be
either outdoor or indoor. It can really involve
a lot of architecture, and I think this
interconnection between fashion and architecture
is something that has been a very important,
very special part of his work. Also beyond the
relationship between fashion and architecture is really his
own passion for architecture, which he has demonstrated
through a lot of specific projects,
which I hope we will get to see a few of them tonight. I really want to thank Aby
Rosen and Samantha Boardman for their friendship
and for really making their first introduction
to allow us to be together. And like all of you, I’m
really looking forward to hearing Calvin Klein. Would you please join me
in welcoming Mr. Klein. [applause] Thank you. Thank you, Dean Mohsen. I’m really happy and excited
to be here, and especially, because as I had said earlier,
I was fortunate enough to be seated next to
Mohsen at an Art dinner that Samantha and Aby
Rosen invited me to. And Mohsen and I got into this
discussion about architecture and how it related to my
work, and building a brand, and all the different
things that I’ve done throughout my career. And it was just a conversation. And that conversation has
led to what could be a book. I’ve done a lot of work and
I’ve never really talked about the relationship
between what I’ve done and how architecture and
interior design and environment and landscape design plays such
an important roll in my work. And I’ve always loved working
with different architects– and I have to get
used to showing you. And often, this photograph–
most of you, I mean, you may know the
name, but you probably don’t know a lot of what I’ve
done because you were probably children. I actually sold my
business 10 years ago, and so what I’m showing you is
work that I’ve done from 1968. This photograph was
my apartment in 1975. The model, she’s wearing
a black vinyl trench coat, black leather
boots, and clearly, there’s an edge to the way
she looks and you know, it’s a little S&M.
My apartment– let me go to the next
slide– my apartment was designed by a fellow. This was his second job. His name was, his
name is Joe D’Urso. I don’t know if any of you
know who he is, but you should. This is the second job that
he did and he was brilliant and we had a really great
time working together. Everything in the apartment
was black leather, charcoal gray, almost
black, industrial carpeting. Furniture that was
tubular chrome and walls that were lacquered. So everything, in those
days, I was into shine. Now, for many, many
years, everything’s matte. It has no finish and
it’s not child friendly. But in the 70’s, this
isn’t exactly the way most people lived. That’s my bedroom then. My bedroom was on a platform
and you could see the pillows and the bedspread and
everything is all black leather. The table that the
TV is sitting on, I also had a dining room
table made the same way. It was designed by Joe. And it’s rubber. It’s black rubber and the trim
is all high polished chrome. And the reflection– I would
have flowers and branches and all kinds of
wonderful things sitting on this big dining table. And the reflection
of the rubber, which the housekeepers
had to polish daily because if it had
to be perfect, was something pretty extraordinary. And working with
Joe, Joe D’Urso, helped me to look at
space in a whole new way. And again, we used these
industrial materials. When you walked
in the front door, there was a closet for coats
and it was a hospital door. It was aluminum with a window
and it was an actual, like, for an operating
room in a hospital. And so most of the
materials that we’re used, I thought other people
lived like this, but people were shocked. When they came to
this apartment, they would actually say,
you really live like that? And I wanted to show you some
of the clothes that I’ve made. And I have very few
photographs of the fashion because I want you to see
the woman who I was dressing and how it too relates
to architecture. I have this dichotomy. I love very sensual,
soft fabrics that move on a woman’s
body or man’s body. But I also love fabrics that
have structure and shape and that you can do all sorts
of interesting things with. And this is a coat
that’s wrapped and folded and she’s wearing a
skirt that matches it. And these are architectural. In the fashion world, we would
say the shape of her shoulder, the shape of the arm hole,
the sleeve, and the curve to the waist is architectural. This is not architectural. And this is one of the
latest things I had done before I left the company. And this is very soft and
very evening and glamorous. And I love that equally
as well, but this too was placed in an environment. It’s in a space that
we created because, although we did many
things against no seam in a photographer’s studio,
placing these clothes in spaces that helped create the
image that I was trying to convey to the world
about what I was doing and what we were making. And this is a photograph
that goes back to– it’s Brooke Shields. It goes back to 1980. It’s an iconic photograph. Dick Avedon took the
photograph and Doon Arbus, who is Diane Arbus’ daughter,
wrote the commercials. It was all about jeans and
we did print advertising and we did on
television commercials. The commercials were hilarious. Brooke, and she was
very young, very young. And she was playing
different roles. And in this one, she says,
you know what comes between me and my Calvin’s. The Calvin’s are the jeans. Nothing. [laughter] That became– and
I’m talking, this is 1980, that was
shocking to people. And it became something that
Madison Avenue used like crazy. People were so inspired
because it said everything that I wanted to say which had
to do with beauty, sexuality, and jeans. Jeans can be sexy,
they could be– I mean, I could go on and
on about denim. I could tell you, we call
him Mark Wahlberg these days, but when I found him,
his name was Marky Mark and he was a rapper who
couldn’t sell an album. And he told me he
had a pair of jeans for every date, first
date, second date, this, that, you know. I was a great believer
in outdoor advertising. Fashion designers didn’t
do outdoor advertising because it was too commercial. And I liked the idea of reaching
a lot of people, of being– I think commercial is a good
word if you do something that’s valid, if you do something that
has value, and so forth and so on. And this is a
jeans campaign that became really controversial
because President Clinton was running for office and the
Republicans were talking then about family values. This was referred to as
Calvin’s porn campaign. The suggestion of the
purple shaggy rug, the knotty pine walls,
you know, the idea that maybe this is some
secret, downstairs basement, hidden place in some
cheap home somewhere. And it was a satire. It was fun. I mean, one day– I have
all the commercials. They are so funny, but we were
thrown off the air overnight. Same thing with Brooke Shields. In one day. We got so much publicity from
the controversy and people used to ask me all the time, are you
trying to create controversy? No. I was working with
the most gifted, talented people in the world
and we pushed the envelope. And these are all sides of me. Everything that had my
name on it from the day I started in 1968 until I
sold my business in 2003. I was involved from the
very beginning, middle, end with every product and
every photograph, every model. And at night, I would
take these things home and edit the pictures. There was a reason why I called
my first perfume Obsession. So OK, we get passed the–
I show you this photograph because she was the
last young woman that I put under contract. She’s a Russian beauty. Natalia. She was just incredible. And she was just as
gorgeous wearing the genes as she was wearing all
the clothes that she wore in our photographs. The introduction of underwear. This was launched in 1982 and
here is in another example, and I think a really good
example, of architecture and how architecture played
such an important role in creating the image that I was
trying to convey to the world. We knew we were going to
introduce men’s, and later on, women’s underwear. And we were shooting lots of
other things, clothing, this, that, jeans, everything. And we went to Santorini,
Greece because of the light, because of the architecture,
because everything’s white and gorgeous. And then, I was driving along,
which was typical of me, I was driving along
Sunset Boulevard and I saw this fellow running
and I stopped the car. I stopped him and introduced
myself and I said, I’m Calvin Klein. I said, who are you? What do you do? He said, I’m in school. He says, I’m a triathlete. I said, have you ever modeled? No. I said, I have an idea. [laughter] Now when we put Tom, Tom
Hintnaus is his name. When we put Tom against this
shape, and clearly the shape, it’s architectural,
it’s phallic, it’s absolutely gorgeous. And the blue sky, amazing. Had we photographed him
against no seam in a studio, it would be nothing. It would be a zero. So design, architecture,
fashion, all these things relate. Fragrance, it all relates. And here’s another example
of a wonderful photograph from Santorini from
that particular trip. And again, the architecture. And that was when
Santorini was great. You don’t want to go there now. The introduction of fragrance. One of the things that I loved
about being a fashion designer, and I didn’t know this
when I was in school, was that it would give me
the opportunity to one day decide– a company called Revlon
tried to sign me to do perfume and I thought, I don’t think
I could work with them. And I decided to open up my own
cosmetic and fragrance company. I thought, when it came to
creating the images to convey to the world of what we’re
creating, of the products that we’re creating,
I would have to explain it to a
Madison Avenue agency and they are not going
to really understand me. And I thought, uh-uh. I’m going to open
up my own agency. And so I had an
in-house agency where we did all of the media,
all the creative, and all of the placements
of all the ads. And we were actually a
mid-size Madison Avenue agency at that time. The fragrance business became
like about $800 million business alone. And when I was in school,
if you were a designer and you had one perfume,
you were in heaven. And we had one after
another of success. And the idea– I had writers
make lists of names for me because I would choose the
names, design the bottles, choose the photographer. And we did market research on
what we thought was trending. And this was during
the Studio 54 days, which was all about
sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And so, very sexy
fragrance was the trend that was going to be
the next new trend. And so, it’s all about
this one woman and men. It’s kind of an orgy and
they’re all obsessed with her. This is another
example of the use of the body and architecture. In the fragrance business,
you make creams and lotions all with the same scent because
you don’t want to mix scents. So it represents a small
part of the business, but I needed to do something
that people would notice. And we went to
Miami– South Beach, and found the top of this
building, this art deco building, and did
this photograph and it was a big success. Then, it was interesting,
because Obsession, that fragrance, the
sales started to slip. And fragrance company called me
in, desperate, and they said, you have to do something. And I thought, I don’t know. What am I going to do. And I had this idea of
this actress, this French, young at that time,
actress, Vanessa Paradis, who, I thought, represented
a different kind of a woman than the models of that moment. And she wouldn’t do it. And so a photographer called
me and he said someone just walked into his studio. He says, I think I found
just who you’re looking for. Her name is Kate Moss. And sure enough, she
comes into my office and she shows me her
personal photographs that her boyfriend,
Mario Sorrenti, who’s a really wonderful
photographer– these photographs he took of
her, they’re private, no one’s supposed to see them. And I’m looking at them and
going, oh my god, this is it. This is it. And I said, he is
obsessed with her. This is what this
fragrance is about. And I said, I’m sending the
two of you to an island. You just go and photograph
her until you’re sick. And the interesting thing with
advertising is, you can tell. I mean the sales started to
fly and we had real concerns because the fragrance was not
doing well and that did it. The whole thing did it. And again, all of
these fragrances were always tied to my life. We did market studies, we
knew where it was trending, but I’ve always made it
personal because I felt I always wanted people to
know that there is a designer behind all of these
things that we’re making. This turned out to be the
biggest perfume, and probably still is, that we ever
did, called Eternity. And I fell in love
with a young woman who walked into my
office for a job one day and that’s Christy Turlington. And Kelly, my now ex-wife but
best friend in the whole world, Kelly looks like Christy. The young man there is supposed
to be me about 100 years ago. [laughter] And Eternity– in
those days, when you were selling men’s
fragrance, it was tough, macho. That’s the way you sold
a cologne to a man. And my sense was, ah,
times are changing. Men want to be parents. Men want to raise children. They want to be a partner in
the relationship with their wife and raise the children together. And there’s a tenderness that
we showed and Eternity for Men was, like, even bigger
than the women’s. And we brought children
into it, which you didn’t use children to sell perfume. But Eternity, the idea
that life goes on, and it goes on through,
obviously, children. Then this one was
another amazing success. CK One. Here, we sat around– we
were really so successful in the fragrance world– we
sat around a conference table. And this is a lesson, I think,
to all of you, and we said, what do we do now? How do we outdo ourselves? And so what we decided was,
let’s break all the rules. Let’s do everything
the way no one does it. And this, the inspiration,
came from the fact Kelly used to– if I was
wearing a white shirt, she’d want to wear
my white shirt. And everything that
I wore, she wanted to borrow it and wear it. And I thought, there’s
something to this. And the word unisex came
to my mind and I thought, that’s a bad word. But sharing was a
word that I liked. And the idea that you could–
this was the anti-perfume. We didn’t make a perfume bottle. We only made cologne. And that’s where all
the business is anyway. And we made cologne in a bottle
that looks like a hip flask. It’s nothing to do with perfume. And it was on fire. And this was all over the
world and we launched this all over the world
for the first time. And the people,
they had piercings, they had tattoos everywhere. They weren’t really models. They were just people. We sent casting people
all over the world, actually, to find– I always
like to find new talent. I like to discover models. The first photograph I
showed you with Joe D’Urso, he had done only one other
job before he worked with me. Later, you’ll see something
from the architect John Pawson, the store that he did for me. That was like one of his first. I love working with
people who are not famous and haven’t done lots of things. And it gives me the
opportunity to work closely to get what my vision is
and I know what I want. Here’s another, just another
photograph from CK One. This is a whole other story, but
again, it’s about architecture. Now, normally, in those
days in print advertising, you ran a single page in a
magazine or a double page spread. And I decided, for me
to tell the stories that I wanted to tell, it took
me sometimes eight, 10 pages. This one was 27 pages. I mean, people
thought I was crazy. And we opened not with
products, not with clothes. We opened with Georgia
O’Keeffe’s courtyard in Santa Fe at Abiquiu,
one of her houses. Because to me, the architecture
and the colors and the form said everything that I
wanted to say about the work that I was doing at that moment. I also wanted people
to know that there was a person behind all of
this product and everything, and so Bruce Weber, who did this
shoot, took this portrait of me in the corner of
O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch. This is a shot of
the clothes and this was at the Taos Pueblo. And Lisa Taylor then was one
of the most important, gorgeous models of her time,
is wearing a suede, nail headed– it’s studded
with nail heads, and then a silk kimono. And so it’s the tones
and it’s the texture and how it relates
to the color and all of the texture and the
shapes in Santa Fe. Here’s another example at
the Pueblo of the model where he’s very strong. He’s wearing dark
suit, dark shirt, against these incredible
architectural shapes in Santa Fe that exist
nowhere in the world because it comes from the earth. I mean, all of the
architecture, it comes right out of the earth. This is another portrait of
me at O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch. This is a photograph,
and I’m only showing you one because god
knows, I’ve checked myself. I don’t want to run out of time. But one of the greatest, I
believe, Mexican architects, was Luis Barragan. And I was fortunate enough
to be able to photograph campaigns at houses
that Barragan designed. And for me, he was
an absolute genius. This is to bring, once
again, a sense of how I live. This is a house
in Miami which was built in the 1920s,
Spanish style house. I stripped it to its minimum. The floors are a
Moroccan plaster. It’s called Tadelakt. They’ve been using it in
Morocco for hundreds of years. The walls, I brought
people in from Antwerp to do lime plaster
on all the walls inside and outside the house. And we lined the
wood, the beams. The beams I chose, I
found in Long Island City and it was never part of
the house, but it worked. And this is it just
another example of the simplicity,
the minimalism and yet the farm table is 17th
century French, that’s on the left with pottery on top. And then the
cupboard on the right is another 19th century
piece that I love. And these pieces, I find, work
so well in a minimal space a minimal, contemporary space. Here’s another shot
of– you don’t really get the sense of the
texture on the wall, so I won’t spend time on that. But this is my bedroom,
this particular house and once again, the floor,
there’s no finish on anything. There’s no shine,
there’s no finish. It’s all matte. This is a photograph from when
we went into the home business, making everything
from soft home, which is everything that
goes on a bed, to bathroom towels, things
that go into the bathroom, as well as tabletop, dinnerware,
flatware, glassware, all of that. And I chose to
photograph our first home shoot at Donald Judd’s
sanctuary in Marfa, Texas. It’s one of the most
amazing places in the world. It’s an absolute dream. And this we launched in 1995. This is another photograph
of the kind of– and even though I would
show our home products in a very minimal, contemporary
space, people bought them. They were successful and they
would have traditional homes, not, they weren’t living
the way I like to live. Here are some more
photographs of how we’ve conveyed the connection
between the products that we were creating for the
home and the architecture, interesting contemporary
architecture. This is a store, the
Calvin Klein store, that we opened on
Madison Avenue. John Pawson had done
one or two things before– British architect,
wonderful architect. And he and I worked very
closely together on this store and then I brought Joe D’Urso in
who was from the very beginning because Joe had
done retail work. And when you’re
building a store, how you divide the space,
I mean, if you have, for instance, a
shoe department, you can’t have the stockroom
five minutes away from where the shoes are because
people don’t want to wait. So somehow you have to
think, as an architect, you have to divide
space in a way that is practical and
really, really works. This is another
photograph from the store. It’s the ground floor
mezzanine and then there’s the third floor. And I love just seeing a
slice of the other floors. And this is another example
of a slice in a wall and then putting
product in that space. This is the store that we
did in Korea, in Seoul. And it was very
beautiful inside. Same, very similar
kind of feeling. This is my design studio now
in New York on 25th Street. I worked with Richard
Gluckman on this and Richard is just
an angel to work with. The table is steel. The chairs, very
Donald Judd, are wood. These, on the left, It’s
all steel, cement floors and the doors open this way. And it’s really interesting,
the way the doors open, the hinging and everything
is so well thought out. And inside is the
library of books that I’ve worked on, collected,
and materials, fabrics, leather, you name it. This is the last major
project that I’ve worked on and this is my house
in Southampton. I worked with two
different architects, but I had a clear view in my
mind of what this was to be. This is the front entrance. Outside of the house is wood. It’s a Mahogany then we put a
Japanese, almost black, stain on the Mahogany. All the glass that you
see on the main floor, on the first floor– 14
feet high, the panels, by seven feet wide. They disappear and
they slide and go behind these black
panels of wood. And the upstairs is 11
feet tall, the ceiling. This is the front entrance,
when you walk in the front door. It’s double height. The spheres are stone that were
hand carved in 17th century, French. They were a spiritual
experience surrounding a monastery in France. Here’s another shot at them. They are the color
of the wood floors. They’re the color of
the beach, of the sand. This is another
shot of the house and the whole point is that
the structure of the house is in these piers. The glass surrounds the
outside of the structure and there are five
piers in the house. I think five, or maybe four. And all the doors disappear. And so you’re living– here,
a good example in the living room. One side, the glass
doors are gone. The other side,
they’re still in place. And so you’re living
inside or outside. It’s the way I wanted
to live at the beach. I collect a number
of different things. Antiquities, going back
anywhere from 3,000 years ago to mid century pieces, like this
lamp, which is very special, Moet lamp and the tables
are from Rick Owens, who’s a really amazing
fashion designer and it has to steel top. These are objects
that go back– they’re Bactrian, which is now part
of what we call Afghanistan, that whole region. And I love the mix of these
shapes, whether they’re ancient or not. And this is another
very old piece. It’s torso. This is an example of when
the doors, the glass doors, disappear and you see
the ocean from one side, and everywhere in
the house, you see the ocean or Shinnecock
Bay, which is on the other side of the house. And you see right through it. Something, a head that I
bought maybe 40 years ago. This is a table
and I show you this because I have a passion
for Prouve and his work. And the chairs,
Jeanneret, I believe. And then the artifact
is an old piece. This is a torso that’s in
my apartment in New York. It’s second century Rome, A.D. This is another. This is part of the breakfast
room with the glass panels disappearing. The staircase leading
upstairs to the second floor. These panels, it’s black
wood that was all stained. Most of the house
is very loft-like, but where I needed privacy,
I created these huge doors that pivot and so they create
a shape unto themselves. This is my bedroom and
that’s a young woman who we put in the
photograph just so one could get a sense
of proportion and height. The desk is– here’s another
photograph of the desk. It’s Corbusier, another
absolute great and mid century. This is not that old. It was from the 1940s, a
sculptor, Japanese sculptor, and for me, it has a simplicity
and a minimalism that I love. This is a shot
of– because there isn’t time to show you
everything in the house, obviously. But the pool is 10 feet above
ground at one end and water flows on all three
sides of the pool. And it’s cement, so you
have this shimmering water going over the cement. And then if you swim
toward the ocean, you meet, at the
other end of the pool, you are at the level
of the [inaudible]. This is another area which
was inspired by Donald Judd. And it’s a place where has a
big, long kind of table, picnic table, which it’s protected
from the wind, that’s the main reason for that. And this is my last
shot of the house, just to give you just another
view of it from the outside, including the guest house,
which is off in the rear. And it’s a four
bedroom guesthouse. And that, I think,
gives you a sense of how I feel about
architecture, how I feel about antiquities,
and to mid century furniture and how it all relates to
the work that I’ve done, whether it be fragrance,
fashion, cosmetics, you know, jeans, everything. It all ties together
and I hope you get a sense of that through what
I’ve been able to show you here this evening. And now I’d love to hear
from you guys, any questions that you might have. [applause] So, maybe, there are
microphones that are around, and so if I could get a few
hands, there’s one here. Can I get a few hands? Please, go on. Thank you very much, Mr. Klein,
for coming and being here with us tonight. Let’s hear it for
Mr. Klein again. This is awesome. [applause] When are you coming out with
your landscaper/apprentice stonemason line, because
I want to model it. [laughs] I have such respect
for– I mean, I worked on the
landscaping of this house. You have no idea. I actually showed them how
I wanted the beach grass to be planted,
because they planted each thing of beach
grass like it was a hair transplant in the old days. And I got a truck and
then I grabbed as much as I could and I just threw it. And I said to people who
were planting, I said, wherever this has landed,
put it in the ground, and then place trees and bushes. I have enormous respect
for the relationship of how important the landscaping
is to the architecture. Any other questions? One thing that I was– as you
start explaining the projects, and you did say about Obsession,
and the kind of commitment that it takes to doing things. And now with the house,
there’s a level of attention to detail, which is phenomenal. But I also get the feeling
that so much of that is to do with the process, like,
the work that goes into it. Are you now kind of comfortable
to live in the house? Because I get the sense
that the energy is about the doing of the work. And so, the house looks
so perfect, that in a way, kind of living in it is
like ruining it somehow. No. No, no, no, no. It’s not ruining it,
but sometimes, it’s more extensive, actually,
than what I’ve showed you. And sometimes I walk around
and I think, this is my fault. I did this. You know. I’ve only myself to blame. And what it is is, for me,
when I get involved in a design project, I’m so focused
on creating whatever it is we’re creating that
I’m really not thinking about living in it. But I’ve lived in some
spaces that I really love and I do love. I like space and I love light. To me, light and space
is the great luxury. And everywhere I’ve lived,
I’ve always lived on the ocean. In New York, I live
on the Hudson River. I have a thing for water
and sky and light and space. And no, I’m happy there. But didn’t you have a house
that you– this was like, there was a house on the site, right? And you bought that and
you did the renovation and then you, in the end,
still demolished the house? No, no, no. What happened is, originally
it was the DuPont Estate. And unfortunately it
was a wonderful house that got ruined by
people who owned it. And someone turned
it into Disneyland. Think of the castle
with turrets. There were eight
turrets all around, like some person needed to
be a King in his castle. And I bought it. It made me ill to walk on
the beach and actually think, I own this. And what am I going
to do with it? A good friend of mine who you
probably may know, Bob Wilson. Bob used to come to the
house and say, it’s so great. I love it so much. And other people would
say, oh it’s funny. And I’d say, well it’s funny
for you, but not for me. And I needed– so I tore
that house down and then what I did do, which people thought
I was building the house, I built a full scale
model of this one. Not– Was that less expensive? It was– It was– but, I [laughter] I needed to know if
the height of the floor should be 13 feet or 14 feet
or– I can’t tell, always, from floor plans. And so, we didn’t
build a whole house, but we built enough
of the structure so that I can see the size
and the space of every room and then we went from there. Then we tore that
down and people thought, oh, he’s really crazy
and then started to build. And how did the
beginning of this idea of using fashion models and
the setting start for you? I mean, I know you said
you were interested in that from the beginning, but
to actually kind of– The only way you can
show– I started out as a designer of
women’s clothes. And the only way to show women’s
clothes, after all these years, is on a woman. And seeing her really
move is the best way and that’s why there
are still fashion shows. But otherwise, you
convey it in print. But then I thought oh, we can
do a lot more interesting things than just showing a woman
wearing a dress in print. And we have an opportunity
to create excitement and to really have people
take notice and think, like, what’s going on? And also, I’ve always
believed that, especially, I was gearing my work
toward young people, and they wanted what they
were told they couldn’t wear. You know, if it was
denim or whatever it was, if their parents’ said no, then
we sold product like crazy. And somehow it translated,
fortunately into fragrance, into underwear, it translated
into most of what I’ve done. Any questions from the audience? Is there anything you
guys want to know? Ask me anything. Hand here, hand here. Don’t say that. [laughter] Why don’t we go here. All right, you choose. You go first, yeah. Can you stand up? Please. So we can see. How do you reconcile– since
you said that you have a vision and you have to keep that
vision and get to that place, how do reconciling handing
that off to an architect, or to what extent do you hand that
off so as to make it a reality? I don’t hand it off. [laughter] I never hand it off. What about your first apartment? I work on every detail with any
architect that I’ve worked with or any interior designer. I’ve, as I said, with all
the advertising campaigns, I chose the locations, the
photographers, the models. I edited the film myself. I think I know what I want to. All right, Go ahead, yes. You mentioned S&M earlier– Can you– no, no. You need a mic. Can you– there’s a person here. Let him ask the question
and then afterwards. Matt, can you give
the mic over there? Speaking of knowing
what you want, I was curious if you could
talk a little bit more about your creative process. Because we saw the beautiful
end results of your house after you’ve put all
the pieces in place. Do you start with an artifact? Do you start with an image? Do you start with the a word? Or, how do you go about
getting to what we see now? That’s an easy one. When I became, when Kelly
and I, my ex-wife, separated, she lives in a
magnificent house. It was the Juan Trippe
estate that– Juan Trippe created Pan American Airlines. And it’s on the ocean,
11 acres on the ocean. And it’s also on Georgica
Pond, so it’s got everything. It’s an amazing place. And people said, well why
don’t you just redo that house? And I said, I can’t
build a new house that’s supposed to look old. But I had in mind how
that house worked. And I had also lived in this
crazy castle for a few summers, so I really got a feeling of
light and how that would work. And it’s a process
and it took time. Thank you, Mr. Klein. The first slide, you
mention the word S&M and I was wondering what
your introduction was to that and how you educated yourself
and if that carried over to other parts of your life. That’s very personal. Just, it seemed like a
strong theme early on. And Did I seem like what? You said there was
anything was fair game. [laughter] Oh, no. It’s fine. You could ask anything you want. [laughter] It’s not S&M, it’s just
that it’s black leather and it was very industrial. And it was, for some
people, it was scary. I mean, and it was also on
the 46th floor of an apartment building in New York
and it was a shocker. But I’ll never forget a name,
that I don’t know if any of you know, Elsa Peretti, the
jewelry designer, brilliant, incredible jewelry. And then when she came to
the apartment first time, she just went insane. She just thought
it was so special. So it isn’t– to put
labels on things, I don’t think is
really a good idea. I said that because it’s kind
of obvious, but you know, she’s wearing a
vinyl trench coat. Big deal. There was a question. Yes, please. Your mic is not on. OK. So I have a question. So I know that you’re
very successful at selling underwear, but I
was thinking that, for other people, like if
I were a CEO of a company, I would be like worried
about selling underwear because it can be commoditized. And also, like if you’re
wearing Calvin Klein underwear, it’s very hard to make
a fashion statement because not everyone can see it. Because I see that like in
your advertisement campaign, you emphasize that by choosing
how you position the angle to shoot that advertisement and
how to wear just the underwear and nothing else,
but people would not dress like that
on a daily basis. So are you at all like worried
that your marketing campaign would not be that
successful at all? I never worried that
the campaign– I didn’t. I could tell. I remember that shot
like it was yesterday. And when we placed him against
this architectural shape, I saw money in the bank. [laughter] [applause] Yeah. So out of listening
to you today, you sound so passionate,
so involved, so intimate, so obsessed with your work. That strikes me
profoundly that you chose to sell your company
and your name and your brand. May I ask you, how
did that happen? The business got very big,
became a global business and I was more
involved than I cared to be in the management of
the business, the business side of it. I mean, I could spend the rest
of my life in design rooms and working with design teams. But it got so big
and overwhelming and I started
thinking, you know, I’ve given my whole
life to this work. There’s a whole world out there. When you’re not
creating clothes, you really realize that
clothes are maybe not the most important thing
in the whole world. And I started going to Africa,
to Ethiopia, to different parts of Africa and India. I’ve been doing things
that are more personal. I’ve worked with schools. I’m speaking to groups. So I’m doing things that are
really, really interesting to me and truthfully, there
was no one in my family– I did not want to go
public– and there was no one in my family that
was ever interested in fashion business and so it just
was the right time. There were– yes, please. Actually, I had a
related question. After you sold your
business, I mean, your name still carries on. And the amount of
effort and the amount of detail you’ve shown that you
take in pride, some may even call you sort of a
perfectionist, so to speak. When you see your name being,
your label still continuing on and you have no control
about the sort of the quality or the design sense, how does
that make you feel, letting go and how do you let go? And how do you see the legacy
of the label living on? Thank you. That’s a really tough one and
a really interesting question and a difficult one. You have to come, or at least I
had to come, to the realization that I must let go because
I’m no longer in control. I was for a period
of a few years where I worked with the
company to transition out, but I chose not to
stay with the company because unless I could run
it the way I always ran it, I didn’t want to
be a part of it. And letting go is tough and
it’s not just with work, it’s with anything in life. But if you can’t control
it, what choice do you have? The only choice then
is to be miserable and that’s not
something I want to be. I want to be happy and
feel good about life. There are a few more questions. That’s a really great
moment to stop by, but maybe I let you
ask one or two more. Yes, here, please. Well, Mr. Klein, I
guess I’ll just start– Where are you? Over here. The tall dude in the back. Oh, yes. How’s it going? You kind of answered
the questions that I had with your
last two answers. But I guess I’ll
just start by saying, you’re a much cooler dude
than I thought two hours ago. Two hours ago, I just thought
you were the guy whose name was on my white boxers that I
had at home, but I guess, I just want to dumb
it down a little. Are you happier, like now
that you sold your company? Am I happier now that
I sold my company? My happiness really has
nothing to do with the fact that I sold the company. It has to do with
enjoying my life every day and doing something
that’s of value. I work with a charter school
in Harlem and quite frankly, I work with– I did a whole
imaging thing for them. Website, uniforms,
we did amazing things for these really young children
who’ve been abused, who have, if they’re lucky,
maybe a grandparent taking care of them. And I spoke to a class. It was fifth grade class. And these children asked
me the best questions I’ve ever been asked. And I’ve spoken to Cambridge
and all over the world. Because it was so
emotional knowing what their lives are
like and they’re finally given an opportunity through
this charter school system to maybe have a chance in life
and they have so much going against them that I
could be of some help gives me the greatest
pleasure in the world. Calvin, you’re the man. [applause] Good evening Mr. Klein. You get to ask
the last question. Yes, please. So while I find the
images, particularly the advertisements,
incredibly beautiful, also hearing you talk
about your good works, I wonder if you’d
like to comment on fashion’s contribution to
the sexual objectification of the human body and how you
feel regarding that topic. How I feel about? How fashion sexually objectifies
human form, both women and men, as sexual objects. I don’t think of
fashion that way. I think of clothes,
creating clothes to make people feel
good and look good. And I think if you
could put clothes on that make you feel, whether
it’s younger, sexier, just makes you feel wonderful, that’s
what what we’re striving for. It’s not about
objectifying anything. It’s really about
trying to create something that could bring
some value into someone’s life. Calvin, this is a
very mixed audience. They’re not only
design school students, so you should know that. No, no. I think it’s important. It’s important that you know
that it’s a mixed audience. And I think it’s
also interesting that a lot of the questions
relate to your happiness. I think it’s an
interesting thing because in the context
of a design school, you know we are at a situation
where a lot of architects or landscape architects or urban
designers who are doing things, they’re also interested in the
idea of how to construct value. I mean, just in terms
of the ethics of things, in terms of the
quality of things, but also monetary value. The value of things,
which is very important because generally
the work of architects is underrated. And so it’s very empowering
to understand really the kind of the totality
of the enterprise that you have been
involved with in terms of presenting a
body of work, which is very, very inspiring in many
ways for people to kind of see. I think also sort of
one of the reasons that people are concerned about
your happiness is that they can see that you have done so many
things and that now I think, with the architecture,
you’re really onto something. You’ve worked with
so many people. You’ve acted as an
important patron. But through that process, you’ve
also now developed, really, a body of your own
architectural work, starting with the
selection of sites now with the house, which is
very, very, very much yours. So I think it’s really
important for us to have the opportunity,
maybe even in the future, to find out about
that part of the work because I think
it’s developing now to become really a sort of
specific body of architecture in some ways. And so I really
want to thank you for what you’ve done tonight and
for speaking to us and for all the inspiration. Thank you so much. Thank you. [applause]


8 thoughts on “Calvin Klein

  1. although there are lots of parallel can be drawn between the perversion of fashion and architecture, a more productive conversation may be held by exploring oma's involvement with prada

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