A Look At Calvin Klein's Legacy Of Controversy & Couture

As we approach a pace in the fashion industry at which trends come and go before we've even had a chance to try them on, it becomes harder and harder for designers to define eras like they once did. And with a surge in knockoffs and copycats, it's near impossible for creative directors to be accredited with the aesthetics they're responsible for. Few have adapted to the changes, and some are ripe for a relaunch, but one name has survived it all: Calvin Klein.

Come November, the designer is releasing his first-ever coffee table book — named Calvin Klein (of course) — a selection of iconic editorial and campaign imagery, written entirely by him. From photographers like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon to Bruce Weber and Patrick Demarchelier, the brand's most legendary moments will (finally) be in one place, for your never-ending reference. Models like Christy Turlington and Kate Moss feature throughout most of the book, as they served as the asymmetrical faces of the era and Klein's eternal muses. All of this, plus personal photographs of Klein's childhood to now, catalogue the history of one of the most influential brands in American fashion, across 330 pages.

The book itself, published by Rizzoli, is divided into three parts, each with their own title and penned by Klein himself: Rebellious, Minimal, and Stories. In a series of intimate preambles, the designer paints detailed portraits of each era he had a part in influencing. From the ushering of clean lines and minimalistic cuts to ready-to-wear following the larger-than-life era of the '80s, to the historical campaigns that featured them, Klein changed the projection of fashion as we knew it and made history. In this order, the book follows his controversy, his couture, and the genius behind it all.

After selling his company in 2002 for a reported $400 million in cash, Calvin Klein has made it a point to distance himself from the namesake label he founded with childhood friend Barry Schwartz nearly 50 years ago. In an interview with Andy Cohen last year, the designer was frank about his decision to part ways with his empire. "Managing a global business was not fun and designing clothes was my passion. It started to become more problematic and putting out fires everywhere," he explained. "The key is letting go." And for the most part, Klein did let go, though he's still benefiting from a royalties contract that expires next year.

But despite remaining rather mysterious since giving his brand away, which is now helmed by Raf Simons with its Collection line rebranded as CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC, he ends the book with one, final declaration — a minimal yet closed-ended statement, in typical Klein fashion: "I stand by everything I did and would not have done it any other way."

Photo: © Irving Penn. Christy Turlington. New York, 1988.
Irving Penn. Christy Turlington. New York, 1988.
Photo: © Mario Sorrenti. Kate Moss. Jost Van Dyke, 1993.
Mario Sorrenti. Kate Moss. Jost Van Dyke, 1993.
Photo: © Bruce Weber. Christy Turlington. Virgin Islands, 1989.
Bruce Weber. Christy Turlington. Virgin Islands, 1989.
Photo: © Bruce Weber. Tom Hintnaus. Santorini, 1982.
Bruce Weber. Tom Hintnaus. Santorini, 1982.
Photo: © David Sims. Kate Moss. 1993.
David Sims. Kate Moss. 1993.
Photo: © Bruce Weber. Christy Turlington. Martha’s Vineyard, 1992.
Bruce Weber. Christy Turlington. Martha’s Vineyard, 1992.