Calvin Klein is an award-winning fashion icon. He is recognized globally as a master of minimalism and has spent his career distilling things to their very essence. His name ranks among the best-known brands in the world, with Calvin Klein, Inc. reaching over seven billion dollars in global retail sales. Klein studied at the School of Art & Design and Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. After a short time working as a designer, in 1968, he launched Calvin Klein, Inc. with childhood friend, Barry Schwartz.
Whether in fashion, fragrance, beauty or his collections for the home, his work has been subtle, sophisticated and possesses a clarity that redefined modern living, and an American point of view. For him, the challenge is to create new things that fit a modern way of life. “It’s about making people look and feel good about themselves and their homes,” he says.
The scope of Calvin Klein’s influence makes him unique among the world’s top designers. On the cutting edge of fashion with his Calvin Klein Collections for women, men, and the home, he reinvented many basic icons of modern dress. He pioneered designer jeans and redefined the idea of underwear and fragrance, making designer quality apparel affordable for virtually anyone; as well as revolutionizing the designer denim and underwear businesses with his overtly sexy advertising campaigns.
His advertising campaigns redefined the way products were marketed to consumers with Klein purchasing multiple ad pages in magazines. One of the most famous was his 1991 Calvin Klein Jeans supplement for Vanity Fair magazine, which totaled over 100 pages.
Time Magazine, in 1996, named Calvin Klein as one of the most influential Americans.
In 1973, Klein won the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critic’s Award, the fashion industry’s Oscar, and was the first designer to consecutively win again in 1974 and 1975. He was the youngest designer ever be elected into the Coty Hall of Fame in 1975.
Klein also received seven awards for outstanding design from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.
Strikingly tall panes of glass rise from the sidewalk to the third floor at John Pawson’s celebrated Calvin Klein flagship store (1993–1995), fitted into a former bank in uptown Manhattan; interiors for CK stores were designed by Deborah Berke; and in two decades Calvin Klein Home has been a source of inspiration for interior and textile design.
Calvin Klein, Inc. was sold to Philips Van Heusen Corporation in 2003, and Klein remained a creative consultant with the company until 2006.
Klein has one daughter, Marci Klein, a television producer. He resides in New York City.
Supported by the Rouse Visiting Artist Fund.
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