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Abstract art may seem totally alien to fashion where clothes have to fit and thus have a coherent, recognizable form. Yet it was the sense of abstraction in the sculptural shapes, revolutionary molding and bizarre compression of material that made the latest Calvin Klein show such a clever fashion moment, such a raffish statement of eroticism.
Calvin Klein's designer Francisco Costa is New York-based designer whose work comes nearest to fine art, in the sense that his style is based on highly explorative techniques and the use of fabrics and fabrications that are almost insurrectionary.
Based, albeit loosely, on the idea of a pin-up, Costa dimpled and contoured a whole series of conical bustiers and peplum tops, giving them an oddly nonfigurative appearance. Yet the moire and reed silk fabrics he used added a depth and a sense of power that was all very seductive.
"I wanted the clothes to feel precise but sexy. A little like a car, because cars have a certain erotic power," said the designer, who stressed that finishing many looks 31 inches from the shoulder added a certain suggestiveness.
"It means you are covered but also exposed," he said, after the show staged Thursday, Sept. 13, in the ground floor of the house's New York headquarters.
Costa's Brazilian roots also peeped out in the mesh tunics that covered several dresses, whose twisting lines echoed the curling shapes of Portuguese colonial designs or the sweeping pathways of urbanist Robert Burle Marx. But only just, for this was a display of truly elegant organic abstraction.