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Calvin Klein and wife splitting up

By FREDERICK M. WINSHIP UPI Senior Editor

NEW YORK, Aug. 13 -- Fashion best-seller Calvin Klein and his wife, Kelly, his one-time design assistant, have separated after nine years of marriage but are still trying to save their marriage, it was announced Tuesday. A spokesman for Calvin Klein Ltd. said the most famous couple in the fashion world will remain friends in any case. 'Calvin and Kelly Klein have made a joint decision to separate,' the spokesman said. 'They remain extraordinarily respectful of each other. They intend to make every effort possible to work out any issue between them but in any event intend to remain the closest of friends as they are today.' Klein was a 43-year-old divorcee when he married Kelly Rector, 29, on Sept. 26, 1986, in a ceremony in Rome that made news around the world. It was her first marriage. From the very first there were rumors the marriage was either troubled or eccentric. They lived for the first year in separate apartments before moving in together. By 1992, Kelly told The New York Times in an interview that she was the happiest woman in the world. 'I love him,' she said. 'I love everything he does. He's just the best guy in the world. I am his muse. I happen to be very American, look very American. That helps, to fit right into his sense of design and style.' Klein showered his wife with gifts. These included a diamond eternity ring that gave him the name for one of his perfumes, a multi-strand pearl necklace, and other jewels from the Duchess of Windsor's collection which cost him $1.4 million, and a house in the posh Long Island Hamptons resort area.

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Kelly no longer works for her husband but has pursued a career as a photographer, producing several coffee-table books on design, including a popular one about vintage and contemporary swimming pools titled 'Pools.' But by 1994, rumors that the marriage was coming apart had resurfaced and an unauthorized biography of Klein, 'Obsession,' by Steven Gaines and Sharon Churcher, alleged that the couple lived mostly separate lives. The book said Klein was a bisexual who like to be surrounded by an entourage of male friends who tended to ignore Kelly. 'Some intimates see the marriage as a happy compromise,' the book reported. 'Others, an uneasy truce...Life cannot be easy for either of them.' Klein began fashion sketching and sewing when he was a boy in the Bronx. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and went into the design business in 1968 with Barry Schwartz, his closest childhood friend with a head for business who provided the $10,000 start-up money. His first big success was a woman's coat that grossed $1 million in its first year in the stores. By 1978, he was an important enough designer to win the prestigious Coty Award for his sportswear, and then moved into the forefront of American fashion, including jeans and clothing for both women and men, accessories, his famous underwear line and fragrances. He also became famous for controversial advertisements such as a jeans ad showing Brooke Shields cooing, 'Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.' More recently a series of jeans ads featuring young models in provocative poses was attacked as child pornography and the company withdrew them. Klein was divorced in 1974 from his first wife, Jayne, his Bronx sweetheart. They had a daughter, Marci, whose kidnapping by a former baby-sitter made national headlines in 1978. She was ransomed by her father and returned unharmed.

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