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Take cover! The balaclava’s finest fashion moments – from Calvin Klein to Kanye West

Model wearing a knitted balaclava at the Calvin Klein show at New York fashion week.
Heads up … a model wears a knitted balaclava at the Calvin Klein show at New York fashion week. Photograph: WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

Not one to shy away from making his fashion shows a social and political commentary, Raf Simons continued his provocative streak at Calvin Klein at New York fashion week on Tuesday. His sartorial weapon of choice this season? The balaclava.

As one of the most connotation-laden pieces of headgear – associated with war and terror, concealment and protection – it is surely no coincidence that Simons made it a focal point. Last season, his collection took its cue from classic horror stories, with American Vogue noting the US was “proving fertile territory” for Belgian-born and previously Paris-based Simons, “even if the country is living through its own very real horror story”. This season’s collection was “the latest chapter in rewriting what an all-American icon looks like in a world of fire and fury”, noted this paper, albeit with less horror and more hope, according to the designer. As a result, his balaclavas swapped hostile for homemade, knitted in jolly pastel two-tone hues.

Simons’ vision for autumn/winter 2018, however, is not the first time we have seen the balaclava become a fashion statement:


Beyoncé in her On the Run video.
Beyoncé in her On the Run video. Photograph:

A frequent advocate of the balaclava, Beyoncé has not only been seen in a style by Louis Vuitton, but also a fishnet variation, which she wore on her 2014 On The Run tour.

Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne wears her heart on her head.
Cara Delevingne wears her heart on her head. Photograph: Beretta/Sims/Rex/Shutterstock

Papped on multiple occasions in varying styles, the model-turned-actor conducted an entire to-camera interview backstage at the September 2013 Burberry show wearing a balaclava emblazoned with the letters BS. She labelled the look “fashion anarchy”.

Justin Bieber

Bieber ‘channels’ Chanel.
Bieber ‘channels’ Chanel. Photograph: Justin Biener / Instagram

Biebs got in on the action in 2013 with an upmarket balaclava from Chanel. Unfortunately, when he took to Instagram to share the snap, he credited the brand “Channel”.

Kanye West

Kanye West in red balaclava
We know who you are … Kanye West attempts disguise himself. Photograph: Collet Guillaume/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

In 2013, West attempted to go incognito at the Maison Martin Margiela haute couture show in Paris by wearing a red balaclava, which, of course, resulted in the opposite effect (or perhaps, in fact, the intended reaction all along).

This article titled "Take cover! The balaclava’s finest fashion moments – from Calvin Klein to Kanye West" was written by Scarlett Conlon, for The Guardian on Wednesday 14 February 2018 04.16pm


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