Calvin Klein 205W38NYC chief creative officer Raf Simons pays homage the opposing themes in Jaws and The Graduate during New York Fashion Week.Calvin Klein 205W38NYC chief creative officer Raf Simons pays homage to opposing themes in “Jaws” and “The Graduate” during New York Fashion Week.

Raf Simons went further into his exploration of the notion of Americana by imbuing the CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Spring/Summer 2019 collection with references from two classics of American cinema: The legendary and oft quoted 1967 Mike Nichols romantic comedy The Graduate, and the iconic, fear inducing 1975 Steven Spielberg thriller Jaws.

“The landscape of America—literal and psychological—inspires Calvin Klein,” said Simons in the post-show release. “A journey through America leads, inevitably, to the edge of the landscape: the beach. At the beach there is incredible idea of beauty, but also a tension—between land and ocean, a feeling of two worlds meeting, maybe colliding. There’s a sense of the unexpected—and always, a temptation. For me, Jaws perfectly exemplifies these notions.”

The tension to which Simons refers evokes the scene in Jaws where people run in horror (evoking the that fear often arises in this current political climate) from the ocean—projections of shimmering water covered the walls of the show—of the beach on Amity Island after word spreads that the Great White shark is lurking beneath. Simons pulled several markers from the film, inserting them into the collection: the reimagined latex SCUBA suits recall what oceanographer Matt Hooper wore when entering the ocean in a shark cage to confront the shark. The CALVINKLEIN 205W39NYC versions included a jumpsuit, body-hugging latex trousers, and short suits. Meanwhile, the theatrical poster of Jaws itself appeared on t-shirts and tank tops, beneath the CK logo. Styled with soft floral prints, the tension of which Simons speaks becomes apparent.

Simons also continued his application of his fascination with youth culture to the American ritual of college—he had plastered logos from the University of California at Berkeley, where much of the film is set, all over the CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC pre-fall 2018 collection—and the contradictions of a May-December romance through the lens of the The Graduate, the story of a directionless and newly graduated Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) who finds himself seduced by Mrs. Robinson, the older, lonely wife (Anne Bancroft) of his father’s law firm partner. Braddock and Mrs. Robinson become interlocked in a languid affair—until he falls in love not with her, but with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), who is more closely related in age than the elder Mrs. Robinson.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the dress codes of different generations—of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons; how the changes between different generations of families reflect the changes of American society,” said Simons. “I love the movie The Graduate and the different family dynamics at play. Like the film, this collection explores taboos and temptations, shifts in culture and community, but ultimately, the overarching theme is love.”

Simons reinvented the prim and proper shift dresses from the ’50s and ‘60s, using actual vintage fabrics from that era and giving them an touch that was all his by adding texture through artful folds and draping, accessorizing them with sparkly brooches, and leaving hems and slits unfinished. Leopard print—a motif for which Mrs. Robinson is known—covered shiny trousers, dresses and skirts. Briefs evoke the bedroom scenes of the steamy affair between Mrs. Robinson and Braddock. The blazers worn by Hoffman in the film came out in various shades of tweed and wool, while tuxedo jackets brought to mind Braddock, plastered against the glass, pleading to interrupt a wedding of the women he loves. The distressed chunky sweaters on the runway served as a nod to the top of choice of many college students. “Scarborough Fair” by Simon & Garfunkel—the duo whose songs dominate the film’s soundtrack, “This Is Not America” by Lazzarus, and Sonic Youth’s “Youth Against Fascism” were among the tracks played over the speakers before graduation caps topped the heads of the final group of models, the final two of which in long, black coats.

Simons’s contradictions in the CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Spring/Summer 2019 celebrate both the beauty and despair of the American landscape, told through the lens of two iconic American films—a nostalgic look back to some, and to others, an introduction to the past.