November 29, 1942- Calvin Klein has always been a champion of the big bulges and he now has been getting in big trouble in Russia for his ads with decidedly gay iconography.
A recent CK2 campaign caused outrage and his company was accused of breaking Russia’s strict Anti-Gay laws. Of course, it doesn’t seem particularly hard to break Putin’s laws.
Klein is has been provoking the establishment for decades, even while his company continues to enjoy amazing popularity and success. He generated an astonishing amount of publicity from his ad campaigns with sexually provocative themes, especially when they are obviously marketed towards young people. One the most famous campaigns of all time were his 1981 commercials, billboards and print ads featuring a teenage Brooke Shields stating: “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” The ads were eventually banned by television stations.
Klein faced more outrage in when his 1995 CK Jeans label featured images of young models that had a look of amateur pornography. The ads were pulled after much outcry, including President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton speaking out against the images. They even brought on a Justice Department investigation to determine the age of the models. In 2013 Klein stated that in retrospect, he probably went too far with that campaign.
It was in January 2010 that Klein threw a 21st birthday party for his gay porn star boyfriend Nick Gruber (he graduated high school in 2009!) at the then hot NYC nightspot Indochine. The invitation actually read:
“It will be the hottest ticket for New York’s gay and fashion elite.”
I guess that was quite the statement. The guests included: Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Steven Klein, Donna Karan, Daphne Guinness, the late great Ingrid Sischy, Vera Wang, closet case figure skater Evan Lysacek, and my occasional lover Andy Cohen, Ian Schrager, along with “100 male models”. But, sadly somehow, not me.
Klein and Gruber broke up in July 2012, and then got back together within three weeks, when they were seen holding hands on the street and kissing in broad daylight in NYC. They apparently split for good in summer 2013 when little Gruber suddenly announced his long closeted heterosexuality.
I actually appreciative and approve of Klein’s design philosophy of minimalism, extreme simplicity, clean and modern, with his trademark earth tones. It pains me to know that is rather a douche.
In the early 1970s, Klein was the first designer to win three consecutive Coty Awards for Women’s Wear, and in 1975, he was the youngest designer of ready-to-wear clothes ever elected to the Coty Hall Of Fame. Klein:
“My clothes are simple, comfortable but stylish, nothing over scale or extreme”.
His achievements in clothing and home designs are a sort of triumph for his particular brand of classical styling after the excesses of the 1980s and early 1990s. But his fine work as a designer continues to be overshadowed by those still talked about ads, most of which skirted on the scandalous and salacious.
Yet, a long line of models, actors, athletes and performing artists have stepped up to appear in Calvin Klein campaigns, including Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Trump-sucker Antonio Sabato Jr., Djimon Hounsou, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Eva Mendes and FKA Twigs. Check out the new spot by hot gay artist Frank Ocean.
Klein has also worked with the very best photographers: Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Steven Klein, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber. Weber used celebrity models like Mark Wahlberg to great effect. It always makes me cheer for men to be objectified as sex objects, something of which, I am enthusiastically in favor. I once stopped mid-stride to gape at a gigantic Mary Mark above Times Square.
13 years ago, Klein bought an ocean-front estate in Southampton, New York for $11 million, then demolished and replaced it with a new one at a cost of $75 million. He would be right at home in the current Portland, Oregon housing market.
Klein is a supporter of progressive issues, a friend of The Clintons and donor to the Democratic Party. He turns a very convincing 74 years old today. I wonder what brings happiness to a man like Calvin Klein.