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, Klein has also given his name to a range of perfumes, watches, and jewelry.
Klein was born in Bronx to Jewish-Hungarian immigrants. He attended the High School of Art and Design 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 shops. He later, in 1968 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, New York along with Robert Denning and Ralph Lauren. Calvin Klein 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. Calvin Klein was immediately recognized for his talent after his first major showing at New York Fashion Week. Klein was hailed as the new Yves Saint-Laurent, and was noted for his clean lines.
In 1964, Klein married Jayne Centre, with whom he had a daughter, Marci, who currently works as Talent Producer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Klein and Centre filed for divorce in 1974.
In the year of 1974, Klein moved on to design the tight fitting jeans that would sell $200,000 in their first week. Klein was also the first designer to receive outstanding design in men’s and women’s wear from the CFDA award show in the same year.
In 1978, Klein’s daughter Marci was kidnapped and held for 9 hours until a $100,000 ransom was paid. Police apprehended the culprits.
In 1986, Klein married Kelly Rector, who worked for the company and is also a graduate of the Fashion Institute in NYC. She became a well known socialite photographer. The two were divorced in 2006.
Currently, Klein is dating model Nick Gruber.
In 2003, Calvin Klein bought an ocean-front estate in Southampton Village in the Hamptons, Long Island, NY.
Klein is a prolific donor to Democratic Party political causes, having given over $250,000 to candidates and PACs since 1980.