kanye west debuts collection in paris
by Jeremy Danté
of the flocks of designers in new york, london, milan & paris- it becomes more & more difficult to get noticed, each year; with fashion evolving into an even bigger global monster. this season has been especially different for me; im not one to allow the opinions of others to sway how i feel or the way i perceive different elements of design, or certain aspects of style. as the summer/spring 2012 show season nears it’s end, i find that i have not covered runway as i have in seasons past. intentionally, i’ve made greater efforts to allow myself to become much more of a spectator & then allow myself to look back to see what stands out, what has let me down & what has inspired me. as a writer, i’ve found a certain degree of power in my own voice. this isn’t one of those, ‘im a blogger so i’ll say whatever the fuck i want to get a reaction’ types of situations on my site. i write when i have something to say; i write when my inner thoughts are so powerfully raging, that i can no longer keep them to myself. fashion is about a reaction; it’s about a response to creativity & kanye west’s debut collection drew that type of response.
now ignore the whole ‘christian dior denim kanye tweet’ incident often affiliated with my site & just consider the world of musical celebrity. who comes to mind? in the realm of pop stars, that often annoy us or grow cold one month after their album has dropped- certain stars can’t seem to escape the headlines, tabloids & yes- the blogs. women are an exception in music- they can sell sex without a problem, there’s a market for it. for men, the market is a little bit different. when you’re a male artist- whenever the combination of style & male come into play it’s all of a sudden a question of gay or straight. now, consider this world of musical celebrity & break it down even further. that break down is usually much easier to analyze when you break it down by genre. you have artist like lady gaga, though not original- her level of innovation in terms image as a pop star cannot be ignored. living & breathing in a hybrid-genre of hip-hop & pop; artists like nicki minaj blend the lively artistry of lady gaga, while fusing that gutter girl, hood shit from the streets of jamaica queens- allowing a successful combination to be seen. for these artists it works- both have changed the way that music is viewed in our modern times of the avant garde, the over the top & the ‘what the fuck is she wearing’. for male artists- there is only one & his name is kanye west. since his debut on the rap scene as a producer in 1996, kanye has consistently risen the bar for what it means to be an artist as a black man living in america, existing in the confines of hip-hop history & rap music. while many might not be familiar with his complete set of skills- i find that more people are distracted by negative headlines, labels of ‘asshole’ or ‘egotistical’ to even look & consider that this man has dramatically changed the face of not only hip-hop, but for art as a whole. from complex stage shows to eloquent rap verses that can inspired & offend you all the same, kanye west has taken to the runways of paris fashion week & unveiled a higly anticipated collection which has everyone from the new york times to the hip-hop heads around the world talking.
the collection has been kept under wraps for a few years now, after kanye’s unreleased sportswear collection, pastelle, never seen the light of day. well, if you don’t count that one jacket he wore, which put the urban blogosphere into a tail spin; but that’s besides the point. debuted for the summer/spring 2012 season in paris- buyers, editors & other designers were all present to see what kanye has been working on. for those who haven’t been up on game; the design team consisted of central saint martin graduates & was also heavily guided by consultation from louise wilson, a course director at central saint martins & louise gray, a london based designer. this isn’t one of those posts that drums the details & leave no opinion or personal thought; however, i thought it was completely interesting to see what others had to say about the collection. the new york times’ cathy horyn, whom i love, bashed the collection for ‘bad fit’ & glaringly discussed that kanye’s only skill was in ‘causing a scene’. that said, bergdorf’s heavy-weight fashion director, linda fargo gushed about kanye’s taste level & even shared that kanye seemed to ”react to everything she was reacting to” a couple seasons ago, while both sat front row at a fashion show. though kanye doesn’t wear meat dresses or call his fan’s cutesy names- his level of personalization through style has always been evident since he released his debut rap album, “the college dropout”. the album, which represented raising the bar for hip-hop to me; hosted kanye’s verses where he talked about polos, vuitton & sneakers. in the time following, a slew of images circled publications where kanye was infamous for rocking a vuitton monogram back pack- a move which had everyone at every high school clawing for the affordable bootlegs & gave birth to the name, “louis vuitton don”.
through all of these years, i’ve watched kanye’s taste level evolve. in the ways i’ve felt that hip-hop has taught me of fashion- in those same ways kanye continues to teach a new generation. my fascination with hip-hop is directly associated to the fantasy elements of it. im not talking strippers or sports cars either- im talking champagne, designer brands & beautiful girls who rock chanel. the collection, though criticized by many; is clean, fresh & inspired by our modern times. i had sensed that kanye would take this collection somewhere like paris, because that’s just what he does. i’ve heard so many people bitch about the fact that he put leather & fur on the runway for spring- to which i respond- he’s kanye-fuckn-west, why would he not do that? in terms of model cast, which is what i base a collection on as well- jourdan dunn, anais mali, karlie kloss, anja rubik & shu pei all walked in the show while chanel iman closed. with a few exceptions, the models were on point as were some of the designs. i did notice the lack of fit in some areas- but for a first collection what was seen was solid. the problem with fashion, in a lot of ways, is that good is never good enough. while that may pose a problem- it also presents opportunity. opportunity for those entering to aim higher, work harder & create something that is unlike any other. i’ve heard criticism of overt references to similar designers but don’t feel that what was presented was anything other than kanye. new to the fashion game, as a designer, there was a certain level of style & personalization that i felt. regarding the design, there is a true & fresh perspective coming in, which i applaud. i’ve posted two of my favorite looks here & am very excited to see how the collection progresses into the fall as well as it’s reception on the editorial front, not to mention whether there will be a campaign, who’ll be cast for the campaign & where the collection will be sold. if kanye is doing fur in the spring- imagine what he’ll do for the fall. strong collection & a valiant effort for the first one out. mr. west has, yet again, raised the bar.