Calvin Klein took a bite out of the New York runway Tuesday with Belgian designer Raf Simons inspired by "Jaws," in his latest exploration of America, its glistening surface and dark underbelly.
Models marched down a red-carpeted runway against a glittering video seascape backdrop -- all bobbing yachts, sun bouncing off gentle waves and a swimmer coming into view.
Suddenly the summer idyll was shattered with the menacing chords of the theme music to the 1975 Steven Spielberg blockbuster, more than 40 years on perhaps still America's most iconic summer horror flick.
Models emerged as if straight from the ocean, with wet strands of hair, beads of water glistening on their skin and dressed in wet suits, both long and cropped, the "Jaws" metaphor laboured in shark-bite-style slashes on the hemlines of delicately pleated skirts.
"Jaws" imagery was printed on singlet T-shirts, as the soundtrack to the show flitted from the menacing to the sunny, taking in "Suspicious Minds" along the way and closing with "Scarborough Fair."
Simons moved to Calvin Klein two years ago and has been credited with giving the iconic American label renewed relevancy, his collections diving deep into the good, the bad and the ugly of the United States.
"The landscape of America -- literal and psychological -- inspires Calvin Klein. A journey through America leads, inevitably, to the edge of the landscape: the beach," Simons wrote in notes for the show.
"At the beach there is this incredible idea of beauty, but also a tension -- between land and ocean, a feeling of two worlds meeting, maybe colliding," he added.
"There's a sense of the unexpected -- and always, a temptation. For me, Jaws perfectly exemplifies these notions."
Hints at a savage world were teased out with plenty of animal print in bold reds, greens and yellows paired with black, and fringed, almost-tribal style clip-on chest adornments.
Contrast came from the school's out look -- Cindy Crawford's 17-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber walking down the runway in a blazer and black mortar board -- a nod to movie "The Graduate."
"Like the film, this collection explores taboos and temptations, shifts in culture and community, but ultimately, the overarching theme is love," Simons explained.
He ran out at the end, blowing kisses to cheers and warm applause for his mens and womenswear 205W39NYC Spring 2019 collection from those in the room, including the actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
Disney and Santa Fe
Coach transported the fashion pack to an alien-like mise-en-scene Tuesday for a spring/summer 2019 collection of prairie-style skirts and fringed suede jackets inspired by Sante Fe and Georgia O'Keeffe.
It was British creative designer Stuart Vevers's latest outing for the 77-year-old US leather goods brand, which has only relatively recently moved into ready-to-wear, with muse Selena Gomez, 26, front row.
His spring vision stayed true to Vevers's fascination with the Wild West, with peasant-style loose frocks paired with slashed and fringed suede jackets and ruffled blouses.
There were also hoodies and T-shirts featuring pictures from that other pillar of US popular entertainment: Disney movies.
The set was something out of 1982 science fiction movie "Blade Runner" with a dinosaur skeleton-style metal sculpture, and a rusted-out Volkswagen Beetle, giving Vevers his trademark contrast between outback and urban grit.
The designer, who has been at Coach since 2013, summed it up as "assembling and reconstructing the craft and spirit of the American look," and "scavenged and salved American heirlooms."
Too cool for school
"A fashion show can feel quite stale. We want to make it exciting," said Patric DiCaprio, one of the designers at up-and-coming New York label Vaquera. "Humor is very, very important in our collections."
The independent brand founded in 2013 and feted for its originality saw vampires and zombies take over a Manhattan high school with an erotic, gender-bending and humorous take on style.
Closing with a fantasy graduation dress in electric blue with crinoline and Bo Peep-style hat, the show embodied the creative maxim that the catwalk is about art and not necessarily about the shop rack.
"The wearable pieces get sold because the unwearable pieces exist," explained designer Claire Sully.
Relatives, friends and high schoolers, brimming with personality, were among the models, and students were invited to watch.