Following all the pre-show hype, anticipation and curiosity, Kanye West made his official debut as a designer during Paris Fashion Week on Saturday night, at the Lycee Henri IV. Supported by a ‘frow’ (front row, for novices) of A-listers and fashion’s heavyweights, names included photographer Terry Richardson (I forsee a campaign collaboration between these two coming soon), Lindsay Lohan (when I think ‘fashion’ and ‘Lohan’, I think Ungaro, so frow guest? hmm…), the Olsen twins, who never take up too much space on a bench, Anna Della Russo, who gushed about the collection before she had even seen it, designer Jeremy Scott, singer Ciara, model and DJ Leigh Lezark and actor/singer Jared Leto. Fashion eds Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, Carine Roitfeld and Glenda Bailey among others, were also present. Pretty clothes-hangers, aka ‘the models’, included Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn.
The collection ‘Dw’ was named after West’s late mother, Dr. Donda West, and having interned at Fendi, designed for Louis Vuitton and consulted with Central Saint Martins professor Louise Wilson, he eventually tapped designer Louise Goldin and several CSM students to help him with his latest foray. Post-show reviews were mixed, some saying the line “lacked focus” with “unflattering silhouettes”, others said it was a “crowd pleaser”, and a “baby Balmain vision of womenswear”. It was a mainly neutral colour story, with the occasional pop of cobalt blue and red, in a collection which featured a mélange of slinky separates, super-skinny metallic trousers, wide-fitting cropped trousers, spandex mini-dresses with dangerously low v’s and high hems (think ‘girl who likes to go clubbing’), crop tops and sexy maxi skirts.
Embellishments and detailing included beading, zippers and crystals on luxurious fabrics like suede and leather, and appliqué weighting on jackets and tops. Accessories included name plate necklaces, and fur backpacks. Yes, fur backpacks. Let’s not even go there. But the first thing I clocked my eyes on were the fur trimmed and strappy shoes, a collaboration between West and Giuseppe Zanotti. The Wall Street Journal were obviously thinking the same as me as I watched the video of one model scarily teetering down the catwalk, writing after the show: “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”.
West chose the French capital for his debut fashion show, rather than NYC, because, “it’s the centre of fashion”, he told WWD. Other shows before his collection in the “centre of fashion” included Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garcons, and Haider Ackermann, described by many journalists as “the show of Paris Fashion Week”. Not hard acts to follow then Mr West! Of course they were though, with Style.com‘s Tim Blanks writing after the show: “There isn’t a fashion designer alive who could match his music. But tonight’s show suggests that conquering his new medium is a work in progress”.
Personally I think there were high’s and low’s in the collection, much like his music, even though he’s the self-proclaimed “saviour of hip hop”. Hmm. If you say so Kanye. My high-points included the knit-embellished and Balmain-esque sparkly cropped jackets and a biker jacket with slashed sleeves. A slinky leather dress also seemed to call out “Buy Me”, not that we know what the price point of his collection is yet. My low points, aside from the fur backpacks and ill-fitting shoes, included a dress with a back slit cut so high the model gifted everyone her derrière. Definitely not a “wearable” item for the every day woman. Or as The Telegraph summed it up best: “Oh dear God, those clothes: does the world really need another slashed bandage dress that requires a woman to go commando and depilate every last centimetre of her body”. Quite.