Kanye West showed his first collection on an all-star cast of (very very white!) models this weekend in Paris. (Okay, fine, there were two black models, but seriously, Ye?) The front row was stocked with some of the designers whose shows Kanye himself has attended for years, including Jeremy Scott, Joseph Altuzarra, Azzedine Alaïa, Alexander Wang, Dan and Dean Caten of DSquared2, and the Olsen twins. Editors, photographers, and celebrities (Ciara! Lindsay Lohan! Terry Richardson!) rounded out the pack.
There were a lot of looks that were so thick with embellishments they looked as if they could have stood up independently. The collection wasn't exactly the samurai-inspired "sports-luxe thang" we had been promised. And the fashion press's pushback has been swift and ferocious. "I think that every one of the designers sitting in the front row at Kanye West must have had a deja vue [sic] moment at some point during the show," Tweeted the International Herald-Tribune's Jessica Michault.
Now, I can appreciate a good slutty dress. I can't appreciate a slutty dress that has wardrobe malfunction written all over it, or a slutty dress that aims to knock-off the bandage dress Hervé Leger invented but instead hangs from the body limply. (It isn't so much bandage as it is three-day-old Band-Aid that's holding on by two specks of stickum.) Also, that's a belly chain on the right there. A belly chain.
There was also a ton of fur. Enormous furry backpacks, fur stoles, fur wraps, fur shrugs. Some people (mostly established fashion critics) have commented that the extensive fur isn't in keeping with the collection's notional status as clothing for spring-summer; that offends me less (seasonal dressing is kind of a joke when stores get their first deliveries of winter coats in August, after all) than the fact that it is fur. There's no hack-ier, more predictable way to say "Hello, I am a fancy luxury designer" than to take a collection and sprinkle it pointlessly and impractically with fur (and that goes for Karl "Fur Motorcycle Helmets" Lagerfeld, too).
Those red and blue pants are actually a nice idea; unfortunately, like the white shirt they're shown with, they don't fit. At all. (And when the model turned around, it was clear that the red fabric panels on the front carried around her inner thigh and onto the seat; the pants have a big red dot on the ass. Very Seventeen reader letter made real.)
In fact, all the pants were the wrong size. Those pink shiny ones are too tight. Those gold beaded ones are too baggy. Those snakeskin ones are too long. I don't think Kanye West needs a fit model; his problem seems more basic. I think he needs a consistent idea about how pants should fit. And maybe one person on his design team whose entire job is just to be the Goldilocks of pants.
When all else in a collection fails, there's still the shoes, right? These shoes aren't...wholly bad. They have a little bit of a beaded-Michelin-Man effect going on at the ankle, but at least they're unique. Kanye West seems proud of them, too, at least according to Cathy Horyn. One of the harshest critics of this collection, she ended up at dinner with Kanye the next night:
Mr. West acknowledged the criticism of his show — the poor fit, the casting. He was completely open about the learning-curve problems and indicated that he planned to deal with them. Everybody who gets into fashion, including musical superstars, realizes how hard the business actually is — putting your ideas across, getting things made on time. But Mr. West was certainly proud of his ropey, beaded stilettos. "Have you seen anything else like them this season?" he said, pointing to Ms. Iman's feet in the Alaia kitchen.
Not that the footwear was immune from the fit issues that plagued the collection. The Wall Street Journal, noting the bad bandage dress knock-off and the shoes, wrote, "The only thing more painful than witnessing the dress was watching the model pitch down the runway in shoes so ill-fitting that her spike heels were bending at angles. 'I feel sorry. Why not take that look out?' asked one cringing magazine editor."
At the after-party, Kanye West gave a speech. Because evidently nobody was around to tell him this might be a bad idea, this is what he reportedly said:
Thank you for anybody that didn't believe, because they motivated us to break our boundaries. We don't know what the reviews will be, we don't know what they will say, but I got a chance to go to Italy and feel those fabrics. I begged Louis Vuitton to let me do more shoes after my shoes sold out in two weeks, and they did not. I begged Nike, I begged this company to let me do it. And I took out motherfucking loans to get the best models, to get the best designers, to get the best venue. I gave you everything that I had.
This is my first collection. Please be easy. Please give me a chance to grow. This is not some celebrity shit. I don't fuck with celebrities. I fuck with the creatives in this room, the amazing people who spend every day of their life trying to make the world a more beautiful place.
The amount of people that tried to get me a celebrity fucking deal. They said, ‘You need to do boot-cut jeans, or you won't sell.' Shut the fuck up ! Or Hedi Slimane in the motherfucking Mercer, sitting with me, saying, ‘Stop giving them your ideas, Kanye. Do your own thing.' Hedi Slimane! To feel so frustrated. And I thank anybody who came to this party, everybody who supported, everybody who believed, because people thought it was a joke, and maybe people still do, but I can only grow from this point.
Hedi Slimane in the motherfucking Mercer had nothing to do with this, Kanye. This is on you.