Ivan's Childhood, a Russian film about an orphan in World War II, was the unlikely starting point for Francisco Costa's powerful, provocative new collection. Something about an image of the young boy in a field of birch trees got him thinking about coats. "Calvin started with coats," Costa said backstage. "It's so relevant to bring them back."
Relevant, it turns out, not just to the heritage of the brand but also to this New York season. It's been a big week for coats. Well, duh, it's Fall we're talking about. But we mean big as in large, and with their exaggerated, mannish shoulders and dense fabrics (alpaca, technical twill), Costa's certainly qualified. Some of those fabrics proved a bit recalcitrant, unwilling to bend to the will of the military roller belts that cinched their waists. As if sensing the potential for heaviness, Costa punched them with holes, commissioning mills to weave fabrics on looms with dropped needles. The holes were rendered in very precise grids, and since process is always paramount with this designer, those grids eventually led him to plaids. Straightforward ones, like a glen plaid V-neck top and matching pleated skirt, as well as ingenious ones, as in the case of a nappa leather dress embroidered with brass tubes in a tic-tac-toe design.
This collection didn't quite capture the eroticism of Costa's work for Spring—it seemed to be more about strength than sex—but it was surprisingly sensual considering the film that inspired it. Credit for that goes to the emphasis he put on the waist, and the suggestiveness of materials like black vinyl and black glove leather. And then there were the models: Carolyn Murphy, who reportedly appeared in her first Calvin show in 1993, walked, and so did Elise Crombez. They both have three decades under their own belts. That's a trend we wouldn't mind seeing continue.