Underwear and provocative ads selling it are two of the pillars that hold up the Calvin Klein brand. In recent years, the semi-nude celebrities filling both have usually been of the Instagram-famous variety—people such as model and reality-TV star Kendall Jenner and singer Justin Bieber, whose massive followings on social media are arguably a main draw for a brand.
But Calvin Klein’s newest underwear models take the label and its image in a different direction. The campaign rolled out by the company this morning (Feb. 27) stars the cast of Moonlight, most of whom are just coming to national attention in the US for their roles in the best-picture winner, newly crowned at last night’s Oscars.
The campaign features Mahershala Ali, who also won best supporting actor for his stint as Juan in Barry Jenkins’s film, and the three lead actors that starred as Chiron, the main character, at different ages: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes. Calvin Klein also dressed Hibbert, Sanders, and Rhodes for yesterday’s awards ceremony.
The campaign is yet another indication of how Calvin Klein’s new creative director, Raf Simons, is handling the company’s pop-cultural legacy since taking over in August. Simons is the first person to have full creative control of the brand since Klein himself. Though Moonlight certainly garnered a great deal of attention in recent months, an all-black cast of a quiet, artful movie about the persecution and violence directed at a gay man as he grows up in Miami is not the sort of thing that has previously attracted the fashion label.
Simons is a well-known art lover who used pop art as the framing of his first campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans earlier this month, and presented a new all-American vision of Calvin Klein on the runway at New York Fashion Week recently. He’s continuing on that track with this campaign, shot by his long-time collaborator, Willy Vanderperre.
The page dedicated to the new campaign on Calvin Klein’s website also includes interviews with all the actors. Ali talks about “working 16 years to be an overnight sensation.” Rhodes, as you might guess from the pictures, is a former athlete who still trains like one.
Sanders, who is 21, knows fashion well. “I just met Raf and I almost fainted, man,” he said. “Really. I’ve been a fan of his since I was in the 10th grade.”
Though he’s arguably not the most stylish member of the cast. When asked who was, 12-year-old Hibbert shrugged and said, “I am.”