Willem Dafoe, Precious Lee and Dame Joan Collins star in CK1 Palace’s film
Directed by Alasdair McLellan, the fun, chaotic campaign celebrates inclusivity and unity with a heavy dose of 90s nostalgia.
Photography Alasdair McLellan
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or your newsfeed is still saturated with all the Oscars drama, you’ve probably seen teasers for the most unexpected collab of the moment: CK1 Palace. Yes, the minimalist NYC fashion label, who have had a chokehold on the underwear industry since the 90s, has teamed up with the London-based 00s skatewear brand Palace.
This unlikely pairing hasn't just simply slapped their logos onto a new collection of garments, though. Instead, iconic Calvin Klein pieces – from the classic boxer briefs, to the denim jackets, to the gamechanging unisex scent – have been reimagined with the 90s style and street culture at the heart of Palace. The union is a little chaotic – in a good way – and the brands are both very aware of this, with a short film released that cheekily plays into the cookiness of the collaboration.
In the film, directed by Alasdair McLellan and entitled “A Tale of Two Cities”, scenes from both London and New York are interspersed to showcase the similarities between the two metropolises, but also what makes them special. Sometimes it’s obvious where exactly we are, other times less so.
Then there’s the cast. i-D coverstar Precious Lee takes selfies on the Staten Island ferry, Palace skateboarder Shawn Powers and model Adwoah Aboah make phone calls, Lourdes Leon orders takeout and Rapper Unknown T catches a grimy London red bus with the Pet Shop Boys, whose song, “West End Girls”, soon soundtracks the film. As the song kicks in, the video begins to heat up, with a montage of sultry shots in the renowned style of Calvin Klein underwear ads. Think: those black and white photos of Mark Wahlberg, Kate Moss, Justin Bieber and, most recently, Euphoria’s Dominic Fike. You know the ones.
Things only get hotter as we see intimate close ups of abs and exposed underwear bands, alongside skaters taking to the streets, before the internet’s daddy, Willem Dafoe, appears as an NYC taxi driver and later a Palace pizza boy. Finally, after going to a red-cup filled house party, we’re taken to London’s oldest restaurant where none other than Hollywood starlet Dame Joan Collins is having afternoon tea with Palace founder Lev Tanju and pro boarders Savannah Keenan and Rory Milanes (quite the blunt rotation). The film ends with the irreverent words of Dame Joan, “Calvin Klein and Palace. Who saw that coming?”
The film is almost trippy in its unexpected turns and bizarre tone, but it works, and you can see the way the union of the two brands has created a fun culture and a CK1 Palace family you highkey want to be a part of. The same can be said for the collection itself. The unisex citrus scent CK1, that once revolutionised the fragrace world, is shaking things up again – in Palace’s first fragrance – by adding notes of bold frosted mandarin and violet leaf freshness. Calvin Klein timeless pieces are given some 90s nostalgia in muted tones like they’ve been out in the sun and catching the dust off the floor like they would adorning a skateboarder. The collab is even extended to oft-Palace collaborators Vans, who bring with them a limited run of white logo-covered “CALVANS” skate trainers.
It might seem random to have a third brand casually in the mix of a collab but in the fun, unserious world of CK1 Palace it makes sense. Everyone is included and accepted as they are and even the most unlikely of groupings can find something in common.
Photography Alasdair McLellan