Artsy sportif — it’s a genre both difficult to pull off and savvy, especially right now, as fashion struggles with the notion of reconciling casual living with high-end chic. It’s the genre Francisco Costa has claimed for his own and continues to refine. The Calvin Klein collection Costa showed on Thursday was a strong effort based on the house’s spring 1994 collection, the one that introduced Kate Moss as house muse. “Calvin did all those layered T-shirts. It was sporty and relaxed,” Costa said the day before his show. “This is my take, for now.”
Unlike the last two seasons in which he displayed a futuristic bent, Costa’s spring “now” played into the natural trend that emerged this week. Thus, he crossed the ease of that early T-shirt-based collection with fabrics inspired by the basket work of artist Ferne Jacobs. He cut almost everything not from basket weaves, per se, but from highly textured fabrics with an innate rumple factor. A process called “needle punching” created the newfangled seersucker of a puff-sleeve dress; crushed pleats freshened an otherwise classic tank.
Elsewhere, he washed silks and mohair for that rough-hewn feeling, its rumples creating an undone peplum effect on jackets tossed on over skirts and pants. Along the way, he kept to an almost all-neutral palette, digressing infrequently to taupe and gray mixes for graphic interest and to a delightful quartet of rumpled dresses in strong pastels.
Much of the collection did indeed have the ease of T-shirt dressing. However, sometimes Costa’s more artistic flourishes got the better of him — the asymmetric, circular seaming sometimes deposited on a girl’s hip what looked like a deflated beach ball in search of an air pump. For the most part, however, Costa kept the overzealous artistry in check, to impressive effect.