Joan Collins is a woman who can, and has, sold us anything: vermouth, Canada Dry, Snickers, lingerie, and a microwave she doesn’t even use but would if she cooked.
And now…a nostalgia-tinged sexy perfume, flanked by skateboarding’s favourite lads?!
Palace Skateboards, the mischievous London-based brand, is releasing today a collaboration with Calvin Klein, the corporate king of sexy-arty-cool Americana. The hero product of the project is a reworking of CK1–a scent that Palace founder Lev Tanju described, in an email, as “an iconic and important smell.” Calvin Klein’s Jacob Jordan, the brains behind the partnership (and the company’s Global Chief Merchant, Head of Product Strategy & New Product Ventures), said that Tanju and his team brought up the scent in an ideas meeting–which was really more like all of them hanging out–and they recalled seeing ads for it in touchpoints of coolness like Thrasher’s in-house rival Slap Magazine and Tower Records. “It was like this bomb that dropped on culture,” Jordan said. “And as soon as I could smell the fragrance again, it brought me back to a moment in time where–oh my god,” he paused, his eyes glossing with Proustian reverie. “Scent as a memory. It became such a strong thing, and they had the same [experience].” They thought it would be great to do a new version of the fragrance together, and then they thought, “But we should do underwear too! And denim!”
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The new scent, as Tanju wrote, “Riffs on that smell and feeling,” but “it’s much lighter and more refined I think.” The accompanying campaign images, shot by frequent Palace photographer (and skateboarding editorial whisperer) Alasdair McLellan, are packed with a fascinating constellation of personalities: Willem Dafoe, the Pet Shop Boys, Precious Lee, model Lola Leon in baggy jeans with the waistband of her Calvin x Palace undies exposed, Adwoa Aboah in a basketball jersey, and, of course, Dame Joan Collins after a schmancy meal, seated with Tanju and other members of the Palace crew. She is dripped in diamonds and fur, while her dining companions are in threads from the collaboration. Why Joan Collins–or Dafoe, or Lucien Clarke in a bubble bath–is exactly the sort of question that Palace inspires and shrugs off. In an era when brands often default to the most obvious, or most followed figures, why not linkup with a true original?
The fresh casting underscores how this collaboration is not so out of left field. Both brands have a knack for putting the unexpected in their imagery, giving depth to the adage that sex sells. Palace’s lookbooks, often shot by Juergen Teller, are combed through like style encyclopedias in the menswear world. And Calvin Klein has a lengthy history of minting careers, most recently with Heron Preston’s 2021 collaboration with the house (also spearheaded by Jordan) that dressed Nas, Lil Uzi Vert, and Kaia Gerber in Preston’s riffs on the Calvin classics.
It does include a new venture for Palace, however: womenswear. While the brand worked with adidas to design a kit for tennis player Angelique Kerber in 2018–which she wore while winning at Wimbledon in 2018–this is the first time the brand is offering what might be described as womenswear. “It only feels right to do womenswear with Calvin Klein,” Tanju mused. “They are so inclusive and diverse as a brand and championed that way of thinking when I was growing up.”
Jordan echoed Tanju’s sentiment, drawing back to the androgynous marketing of the fragrance, which was a revolutionary concept at the time. “CK1 was one of the first, let’s call it, ‘gender fluid’ or ‘gender inclusive’ scents. I think that was also important, that if we wanted to do anything that tied back to the original notion of CK1, the whole idea is like, it’s for everyone.”
As Collins puts it with a wicked arch of her eyebrow at the end of the video made as part of the collaboration, “Calvin Klein and Palace: who saw that coming?”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US