It’s with tears in our eyes that we say goodbye to the Calvin Klein that we have come to love; the Calvin Klein creatively directed by Francisco Costa (womens) and Italo Zucchelli (mens) for more than a decade. Yesterday (April 19, 2016), the brand announced the exit of both designers due to a change in strategy: both womenswear and menswear will be unified under the creative direction of one designer (rumors point to Raf Simons). But before we start speculating on which designer will be the new lead, let’s look back at some of the pivotal moments in Costa and Zucchelli’s time at the at the American minimalist supreme.
When Brazilian born and raised Francisco Costa took the creative director role of the house in 2003, founder Calvin Klein had just sold the company to Phillips-Van Heusen for approximately $730 million. Costa had been working under Klein for about two years after having been Tom Ford’s assistant at Gucci (where he was later rumored to replace Ford when he left in 2003). Critics were not overly enthusiastic about Costa’s first couple of collection. Following the presentation of his second collection, Janet Ozzard wrote: “…it was understandable that Francisco Costa’s first collection as head of Klein’s women’s line, last spring, was somewhat tentative. Now it’s time for Costa to show that he’s fully in command, and his fall show came up disappointingly short.” The designer was in his 6th season when critics turned. In September 2005, Nicole Phelps wrote: “Francisco Costa, now in his sixth season at Calvin, turned out one of his strongest, and coolest, collections to date.” Costa won two CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year awards (2006 and 2008) during his time at CK.
Briefly after Costa’s promotion, another designer from within the house took a creative director position Italian Italo Zucchelli took over the menswear line. The now 50-year-old spent six seasons working under Calvin Klein before receiving the grand promotion. He had also previously worked at Jil Sander, which probably aided to the designer’s cool and minimal approach. From the get go, critics loved Zucchelli’s collections. After his second collection, Tim Blanks wrote: “His use of a brighter palette was edgy, even provocative; the tones slightly off, to make them fresh and interesting.” Over the years, many of his styles have trended amongst global fashion enthusiasts (such as his cloud printed sweatshirt from SS14). And isn’t seeing your clothes worn on the streets one of the biggest testaments to your talent as a designer? To prove this, Zucchelli was awarded CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year.