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Brand X: Calvin Rocks

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BRAND: Calvin Klein
CAMPAIGN: cK Calvin Klein Jeans
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Calvin Klein
PHOTOGRAPHER: Steven Klein

Seems Calvin Klein was feeling sorry for Tommy Hilfiger, so he let him have Jewel for his cheesy "Tommy Rocks" ads, but Calvin's still keeping nearly every other pop pinup for his new CK Jeans campaign. So far, he's snagged musicians Liz Phair, Foxy Brown, Hole's Melissa auf Der Maur, Jon Spencer, Garbagewoman Shirley Manson, and Orgy's Jay Gordon, along with actors-on-the-verge Vincent Kartheiser and Julia Stiles. The message: Calvin owns pop culture, or at least pop culture with pretensions to edginess. By the way, you're not allowed to think that Liz et al. are any less edgy for hawking denim, because this is the post-sellout era, wherein you're selling yourself short if you haven't sold out. The beauty of it all is that the campaign makes its ordinarily inaccessible celebrity subjects seem not just hyper-desirable but in heat. And, my God, so vulnerable. Foxy's on her knees. Liz is hiking up her tank top. Tears are streaming down Julia's face (won't you kiss away her pain?). And Jay's facedown and blissed out like some character in a Dennis Cooper novel waiting to be sexually annihilated. It's all so weirdly alluring and unsettlingly up-close and personal that you're temporarily distracted from the fact that what's going on here is basically Calvin's old basement-rec-room aesthetic. Except he's traded up -- better lighting, slightly more upscale interiors, and a lineup of unexpectedly fuckable young stars who somehow look just as needy as you.


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