What happens when you take one of the most iconic American fashion brands, reinterpret it through the outside perspective of a distinctly European designer, and throw in a splash of Barneys’ own brand of refined irreverence? The result is our newest window installation celebrating Raf Simons’ debut collection as chief creative officer for Calvin Klein, dubbed CALVIN KLEIN 250W39NYC. And for the first time ever, we’ve collaborated with our Madison Avenue neighbors—the Calvin Klein flagship happens to share a block with ours—for a display that spans corner to corner from 60th to 61st Streets.
“I am proud and excited about the simultaneous unveiling of the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC creative concept in both the Barneys and Calvin Klein Madison Avenue store windows this month,” says Raf Simons. “This collaboration marks a special moment for me in the midst of New York Fashion Week and the fall season.” Beyond our collective Manhattan block, versions of the windows are also on display at our Downtown, Beverly Hills, Chicago, and San Francisco stores.
Derived from a dialogue between Simons and Barneys creative director Matthew Mazzucca, the windows’ concept is derived from the interpretation of traditional American themes like cowboys, marching bands, and the family home. “The concept combines Raf’s interpretation of these themes with modern, nontraditional materials and motion to create an invisible world,” Mazzucca says. “Raf took common, everyday ideas about America and elevated them into a cohesive collection. Our take on that was to look at materials that are used behind the walls of a domestic house and aren’t typically seen, expose them, and elevate them into something that’s been considered and reevaluated.” This idea was also put into play with a digital lookbook Barneys recently created in celebration of Calvin Klein 250W39NYC entitled, “A New Frontier.”
Among the steel studs and fiberglass insulation, other invisible elements include a rocking chair that seems to rock itself and a pair of steel-toed boots, worn by an “invisible cowboy” who’s tapping his foot. “There’s a loneliness to these windows,” Mazzucca says, noting that each of the windows has been subdivided into separate vignettes. “It’s a series of quiet, isolated moments rather than taking these elements and putting them together in the same world.”
That isolation comes in part from Simons’ view of the America that lies outside of urban areas. “There’s a balance between a metropolitan view of American and what rural America actually looks like, made even more interesting by the fact that it’s a European’s perspective of what America looks like,” Mazzucca tells us. “Raf has an outsider take on what the domestic landscape looks like.”
Part of that take has led to another first for Barneys windows, the use of mannequins other than our own. For our Calvin Klein 250W39NYC windows across the country, we’re using Calvin Klein’s own mannequins, which embrace a rough-around-the-edges look that draws on the abandoned storefronts and retail spaces seen throughout Middle America.
Finding beauty in such an unexpected place is part of Simons’ talent and uniquely outsider point of view. “What Raf is doing—I don’t think it could have been done by another American designer,” says Mazzucca. “He’s looking in with a different perspective, in that he doesn’t gravitate toward what other people attach themselves to in terms of culture in America. He’s able to process what he sees through his own lens, and then puts that back into the collection. That’s a huge asset. People are sometimes too close to their own culture to be able to step outside of it and evaluate its inspirational elements.”