Pure is the way designers like to describe either a clean look or one they feel is very true to their aesthetic, very them. Usually it comes off as fashion speak, but in the case of Francisco Costa’s spring collection for Calvin Klein, there’s really no other word. The show opened with a halter dress in ecru washed silk. Cut high and precise around the neck, deep and low under the arm, it fell just above the ankle in a fluid line, the only embellishment a thin drawstring around the waist. It was the kind of spare, sexy look that defines the smoldering minimalism Calvin Klein invented. As company president Tom Murry said, “It’s the most ‘Calvin Klein’ [Costa’s] ever done.”
The genre is already inherently modern, and it was impressive to see how Costa made such seemingly plain clothes feel completely relevant and new. He chose amazing fabrics — washed and double-faced silks so smooth and rich they brought to mind fondant — and kept to a basic palette of ivory, black, blue and red. There was as much softness as there was structure. Two short, fluttery silk dresses, vertically pleated down the front with a blouson waist, were borderline sweet, while two boxy shifts — one red, one indigo —were precision cut from thick washed silk that seemed to be suspended around the body. The geometry was where Costa indulged his architectural tastes, with decorative folds and crisp layers tempered by approachable shapes. For example, a square, sleeveless shell worn over a stiff apron belt and a cropped, creased pant amounted to a three-tier look that was angular but light.
Among the collection’s highlights were long dresses in ivory crepe or embossed silk twill. Tank styles with exaggerated racer backs pulsed with sporty sex appeal, while more covered-up versions with long, slim sleeves had an austerity that veered toward the monastic while retaining their allure.