Carly Rae Jepsen to Calvin Klein: ‘Call Me’ (Maybe?)

Carly Rae Jepsen to Calvin Klein: ‘Call Me’ (Maybe?)

Is Carly Rae Jepsen hoping for a front-row seat at the next Calvin Klein show, perhaps sandwiched amid ASAP Rocky, Khalid and Billie Eilish? That would be the natural conclusion for anyone watching her new video for the single “Party for One,” which stars Ms. Jepsen and some of the most obvious product placement recently seen onscreen, in the form of Calvin Klein underwear.

The Calvin briefs make an appearance about 38 seconds into the video when Ms. Jepsen sheds her miniskirt, and they are featured on several of her video co-stars, including at least one additional woman and two men.

Absolut Vodka and Postmates also have supporting roles in the video, as Ms. Jepsen and her fellow dancing lonelyhearts converge in a hotel lobby. Overall, “Party for One” is such an unmistakable ode to the troika of brands that it has not gone unnoticed by viewers.

Surprisingly enough, however, Calvin Klein was not aware it was happening. “Calvin Klein did not facilitate the product placement in Ms. Jepsen’s video,” a spokesman said. (He had not seen or heard of the video before being contacted.) “But we are always happy to see artists engaging with our products as a form of creative expression.”

“Carly does not have a partnership with Calvin Klein nor any upcoming. Of note, this was not a paid integration but it’s such a classic brand and CK underwear was the only way to go,” a spokeswoman for Ms. Jepsen later confirmed.

Ms. Jepsen was not paid to use the briefs, and there is not (yet) a conversation about her becoming one of its collection of famous faces. But it’s easy to imagine why someone like Ms. Jepsen or her multifaceted manager, Scooter Braun, would be interested in catching the eye of a brand like Calvin Klein (though representatives for Ms. Jepsen and Mr. Braun did not respond to requests for comment).

Ms. Jepsen, a 32-year-old Canadian pop star who remains best known for her viral 2012 anthem “Call Me Maybe,” shifted to a more sophisticated sound with her 2015 album “Emotion.” She enlisted a star-studded team of songwriters, merging creators from the pop sphere (Sia) with big-name indie producers (Dev Hynes, Ariel Rechtshaid).

For the most part, the album did not sell well (though it went gold in Japan!). But it transformed Ms. Jepsen into a cult favorite. She is particularly popular with gay audiences. Earlier this year, the writer Michael Waters observed:

In queer circles, Jepsen is a cult hero. Numerous queer club nights are thrown in her honor, and sentiments like “only gays can hear carly rae jepsen songs” and “carly rae jepsen created gay people when she released Run Away With Me (2015)” abound on the internet.

Ms. Jepsen gets more than five million monthly streams on Spotify, significantly less than, say, Britney Spears, but millions more than an independent artist in her peer group, like Grimes.

And Ms. Jepsen has leveraged her unusual celebrity to score high-profile video cameos in the past. Tom Hanks starred in “I Really Like You,” in 2015, lip-syncing down the streets of New York before meeting up with Ms. Jepsen for a dance breakdown at the video’s end.

As for Calvin Klein, the brand that minimalism, jeans and underwear built, it is experiencing something of a renaissance under the relatively new chief creative officer Raf Simons, a highly feted Belgian designer who joined the house in 2016 after stints at Dior and Jil Sander, and who is known for his ability to elevate the commercial by casting it in the glow of the artistically alternative and intellectual.

Since arriving at Klein, for example, Mr. Simons has used the entire clan Kardashian to advertise the underwear, made an agreement with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to use the artist’s work on jeans and home wares, and made Millie Bobby Brown, Saoirse Ronan, Brooke Shields, Lupita Nyong’o and Paris Jackson (among others) his celebrity faces.

Is it possible that Ms. Jepsen could one day be among them? The brand will not close the door to the possibility. But though Ms. Jepsen has done a good job making the case that many different body types can wear Calvins, and though the message of the video (celebrate yourself!) is a positive one, ultimately the undies look a little lonely under the lights.

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