New year, new city. Raf Simons kicked off what promises to be a major year for him—he shows his début collection for Calvin Klein next week—with a show last night for his namesake line in New York for the first time. Showing at the Gagosian gallery in Chelsea, Simons offered up a powerful celebration of his new hometown, with takes on the iconic I Heart NY logo and duct tape used to cinch waists in a clever look that was very streetwear DIY. His trademark oversize knits were cropped and hung off the shoulder with the neckline nearly at the hips, while he played with materials in coats that had a classic look but added a sturdy heft or a glossy sheen. In a nod to the city’s ubiquitous signage, t-shirts were emblazoned with slogans and the duct tape beckoned with an invitation to “Walk With Me.” Accessorized with chunky necklaces and heavy knit arm warmers, the clothes had a sharply urban appeal with strong shapes and a muted palette.
While it remains to be seen how Simons will transform the all-American CK in our new political world, a celebration of New York—a city full of immigrants—felt like an appropriate start. Coming as Trump attempts to close our nation’s borders, Simons offered an edgy collection that hinted at protest without becoming obvious. Indeed, his place as a foreigner at the head of one of the nation’s most famous brands is a statement in its own right, a reminder that what has always made America great is its diversity and the home it offers to those from abroad.