Kate Moss. Christy Turlington. Brooke Shields. Each one of these supermodel legends can thank designer Calvin Klein, at least in part, for launching their decades-long careers with his sophisticated, sleek, and often racy ad campaigns. But while it may seem as though Klein has worked with every bold-faced name in the game, there is one model that he never got the chance to cast—and wishes he had.
"I always wanted to work with the French actress Vanessa Paradis,” Klein told InStyle. "I wanted a different look than the supermodels everyone was using. To me, she was a little androgynous with a boyish kind of figure, but there was something so beautiful and sensual about her too.”
Even though the two never ended up connecting (she was working on a film and unavailable to shoot when he reached out), Paradis did somewhat indirectly help lead the designer to one of his most memorable collaborators to date. “I had been mentioning Vanessa’s name to [photographer] Patrick Demarchelier, and then a few weeks later, he called and said, ‘Calvin, someone else just came into my studio that you should see.’ It was Kate Moss."
Moss, of course, went on to be the face of Calvin Klein in many of the brand’s most striking campaigns for Calvin Klein Jeans, CK Underwear, and even CK Obsession. Now, she also graces the cover of the designer’s very first coffee table book, Calvin Klein, available now ($104; barnesandnoble.com).
The stunning, almost-500 page tome is a tribute to Klein’s minimalist aesthetic and career as well as the hundreds of influential images and ads he brought to life with photographers like Mario Sorrenti, Bruce Weber, and Irving Penn. It’s separated into three curated sections—Rebellious, Minimal, and Stories—with the final chapter giving the designer a space to reminisce about how some of the brand’s most enduring fashion moments came to be.
“It’s been an enormously satisfying experience to revisit all that I’ve created in one place,” said Klein, who handpicked each photo for the book. “Throughout my career, I touched on so many different design areas, from clothes and beauty to underwear and denim. Yet from speaking at many universities, I realized people knew the name but they didn’t always know exactly what I did. This book is an opportunity to tell my whole story, the story of my life.”
Of all the moments featured in the book, Klein said he has a favourite that will continue to jump off the page. “The campaign with Brooke Shields was the most memorable because of how small it started and where it eventually led,” said Klein, referencing the 1980's commercial featuring a 15-year-old Shields reciting the famous line: ‘You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.’
At the time, Shields was relatively unknown. And as Klein recalled, the commercial changed everything for both her and the CK brand. “Dick Avedon, Doon Arbus, and I spent many a night in my studio collaborating and having fun with it,” said Klein. “We had no idea the sensation it would cause. We became a global brand right after that."