Calvin Richard Klein
November 19, 1942
|Residence||Southampton, New York, U.S.|
|Education||Fashion Institute of Technology|
|Calvin Klein Inc.|
(m. 1965; div. 1974)
(m. 1986; div. 2006)
|Parent(s)||Flore Stern Klein|
Calvin Richard Klein (born November 19, 1942) is an American fashion designer who launched the company that would later become Calvin Klein Inc., in 1968. In addition to clothing, he also has given his name to a range of perfumes, watches, and jewelry.
Klein was born on November 19, 1942 to a Jewish family in The Bronx, the son of Flore (née Stern) (1909-2006) and Leo Klein. Leo had immigrated to New York from Hungary, while Flore was born in the United States to immigrants from Galicia (Eastern Europe) and Buchenland, Austrian Empire (modern day-Ukraine).
Klein went to Isobel Rooney Middle School 80 (M.S.80) as a child. He attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and matriculated at, but never graduated from, New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, receiving an honorary doctorate in 2003. He did his apprenticeship in 1962 at an oldline cloak-and-suit manufacturer, Dan Millstein, and spent five years designing at other New York City shops. In 1968, he launched his first company with a childhood friend,Barry K. Schwartz.
Klein was one of several design leaders raised in the Jewish immigrant community in the Bronx, along with Robert Denning and Ralph Lauren. He became a protégé of Baron de Gunzburg, through whose introductions he became the toast of the New York elite fashion scene even before he had his first mainstream success with the launch of his first jeans line. He was immediately recognized for his talent after his first major showing at New York Fashion Week. He was hailed as the new Yves Saint Laurent, and was noted for his clean lines.
Klein married Jayne Centre, a textile designer, in 1964. They have a daughter, Marci, who currently works as Talent Producer for NBC's Saturday Night Live. They divorced in 1974. In September 1986 Klein married his assistant, Kelly Rector, in Rome while they were on a buying trip in Italy. She later became a well-known socialite photographer. After separating in 1996, they divorced in April 2006 after 20 years of marriage. In 2003, Klein bought an ocean-front estate in Southampton, New York on Long Island and demolished it to build a US$75 million glass-and-concrete mansion. Calvin Klein dated Nicholas Gruber. Klein is a supporter of the U.S. Democratic Party, having given over $250,000 to candidates and PACs since 1980.
In 1974, Klein designed the tight-fitting signature jeans that would go on to gross $200,000 in their first week of sales. In that same year he also became the first designer to receive outstanding design in men's and women's wear from the CFDA award show. In 1983, he was placed on the International Best Dressed List. Also in 1981, 1983 and 1993, he received an award from Councils of Fashion Designs of America.
Klein made a cameo appearance in Season 3, Episode 15 ("The Bubble"), of the television series 30 Rock. A fictionalized version of him also appears in Season 4, Episode 13 ("The Pick"), of the television series Seinfeld.