It is already a household name, but fashion giant Calvin Klein refuses to stand still. Khabi Mirza meets president Tom Murry to see which area it plans to conquer next
Elegant though it is, the sumptuous backdrop of Claridges feels slightly too ornate for a Calvin Klein interview. Causing a stir in the central foyer is the immaculately groomed Nancy Dell’Olio, the girlfriend of former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who, in her dominatrix leathers and an oversized pair of sunglasses, is hard to miss. Her presence underlines the Claridges personality – more showy than the understated modernism that informs the Calvin Klein design mantra.
A few minutes of courteous interview preamble with Calvin Klein president and chief operating officer Tom Murry emphasises the understated cool that has maintained the brand as an international byword for accessible fashion. Pristine in his Super 100 two-button suit – a black Calvin Klein number, of course – the only giveaway that Manhattanite Murry landed at Heathrow barely two hours ago is his open-necked shirt.
Softly spoken and rigorously trained in diplomatic corporate communications, Murry has the confident but guarded charm of an international fashion executive. Along with his designers Francisco Costa, Kevin Carrigan and Italo Zucchelli, Murry is in town for a 24-hour whistle-stop trip to attend a spattering of interviews and store visits, followed by a heavily choreographed presentation of the brand’s spring 08 collection in the evening.
The timing of the event is not by chance. After several years living under the trend radar for hip UK consumers, Calvin Klein is reasserting its design credentials once again. “Events like tonight are designed to help get the message across,” Murry explains. “The venue and presentation will be breakthrough, and it will have a high celebrity quota. It’s through these events that the Calvin Klein message reaches fashion-aware shoppers.”
Hosted in a stark, subterranean Baker Street car park, the event features a catwalk-elevated single file orchestra playing a monotonous thunder-clap soundtrack, while a stop/start parade of expressionless models display the simple silhouettes, sleek fabrics and muted tones that were welcomed with broad critical praise during New York Fashion Week.