Fashion’s most famous aficionado, music star Kanye West, turned pro on Saturday with a luxurious hard-edged women’s collection that bucked all the stereotypes about celebrity designers.
Though designers inParisare presenting collections for next spring and summer this week, Mr. West’s collection was heavy on leather, fur and coats, some pieces dripping with so much fox you couldn’t tell if they were stoles or backpacks.
“I did not want to miss it,” said Linda Fargo, the fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, who said she met Mr. West years ago when she sat next to him at a runway show in New York. “We had a running commentary throughout the whole show, and he was really into it,” she said. “Everything I was reacting to, he was reacting to.”
The show opened with a hot-club moment, with slinky ridged dresses like those of Pucci and Balmain, with slits and zippers cut around the sides, and a heavy motorcycle jacket that had its sleeves sliced in half.
A sparkly cropped jacket had so many bits of flare in it that you could imagine Mr. West sampling fashion like he samples different styles of music. There was one good-looking pair of color-blocked pants in blue and coral, but it was obvious that most of the clothes suffered from a poor fit.
Mr. West did not disappoint, if only in terms of creating a scene. At least a half-dozen designers he has befriended were there, including Azzedine Alaïa, Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Dean and Dan Caten and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, plus some heavy-hitting editors like Anna Wintour and Glenda Bailey.
Everyone sat in a long, sterile white box, lit with purple neon lights, that you would never have known was actually the ornate library of the Lycée Henri IV on theLeft Bank.
You could see the influence of established designers — many of shows he frequented over the years. There was a bit of Balmain in the short, sex-drenched dresses and some Givenchy in the gothic, bondage-y leather jackets and skirts, for example.
But luxed-up streetwear elements, like hooded jackets made in a mosaic of crocodile skins, gave the collection a unique voice of its own.
Jeremy Scott, another designer, said Mr. West was “so passionate about design that we can have conversations about fashion for five or six hours.”
“Turn the music down, at least,” Kanye West said as he gathered his thoughts. “I’m so distracted. I was so scared.” He described the process of gathering ideas for a collection over seven or eight years.
“I had a lot of ideas about colors and shapes I wanted to express,” he said. “I’m really happy where I ended up.”
“The biggest conversation I had was about the whole idea of a celebrity-designer or a rapper-designer,” he said. “That was the biggest hurdle when you are trying to get people to work with you.”
Celebrities (R&B singer Ciara), designers (Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang and Olivier Theyskens) and celebrity designers (the Olsen twins) turned out for West’s show, which was hands-down THE event onParis’ spring-summer 2012 calendar.
“Everyone probably thought it was going to be another like Jennifer Lopez’s Macy’s line and it’s not, it’s really clear it’s not,” said U.S. designer Jeremy Scott, who’s known for his kooky, colorful designs.
“Kanye has impeccable taste and you see his taste level is up there. He’s a fan of design across the board. I have five-hour long conversations with him all the time about everything because he’s so obsessed, and I think we got a little bit of an insight into his mind there.” [via Huff Post and The New York Times]