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A Fitting Day for Calvin

In his first retail appearance in several years and the first since selling his company, Calvin Klein worked the floors at Bergdorf Goodman on Tuesday.

NEW YORK — Calvin Klein knows how to make a sale.

In his first retail appearance in several years and the first since selling his company to Phillips-Van Heusen in December, Klein worked the floors at Bergdorf Goodman on Tuesday for more than an hour, sending several of his loyal admirers into dressing rooms with looks from his spring collection. (The terms of the sale of CKI to PVH included royalties to the designer based on future retail sales of the Calvin Klein brands, after all.)

“I should be back there in the fitting room,” Klein said, since several women — and not just the models hired for the event — were parading about in his dresses, one of them without shoes. The designer was unfazed as he dispensed advice to the shoppers, and was somewhat perplexed by their reaction to such a rare appearance.

“Actually, I come here quite often,” Klein said. “It’s usually for sales seminars and training, but I keep it a secret or I’d have to come all the time.”

His appearance did draw a crowd, as Patricia Wexler, Diane Simms and Cece Cord browsed through the spring collection as part of a two-day trunk show, when special orders are also available to general Bergdorf customers. Ron Frasch, chairman and chief executive officer of the store, and Robert Burke, vice president and senior fashion director, said the spring business from Klein had been strong, and some customers were just getting started.

“Can you believe, I haven’t bought one thing,” said Cord. With her Yorkie, named Tiger, inside one of the dog carriers she designed for Bergdorf’s last fall, Cord drew almost as many fans as Klein, but she brushed them aside to hit the racks. “I only wear Calvin’s pants because they’re long enough for me.”

Pants aside, early reports from the event put Klein’s signature black dresses in the lead, while several customers were also drawn to a chinoiserie print dress, not shown during the spring runway show, that includes a subtle signature from the designer: Calvin Klein spelled in a chopstick script. Top selling items included a rose quartz silk hammered dress for $1,690, a washed leather jacket for $2,420 and a cream chiffon jersey dress for $2,270.

This story first appeared in the February 26, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.