Somehow Kanye West’s fashion show came to be the most hyped of the entire spring 2012 season, creating expectations that are often impossible to live up to, even for trained, established designers. The reviews of the show ranged from the kind (“baby Balmain,” according to Style.com), to the optimistic (“one good-looking pair of color-blocked pants in blue and coral”, according to the Times), to the merciless (“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,” writes The Wall Street Journal). Yes, there was a lot of wrong. But there was also some right, which we are biased in pointing out because Kanye West gave us a hug in exchange for not giving us an interview once, which is more than you get from most famous people who don’t feel like giving you a sound bite.
What Kanye Got Right
• The critics. Every major one, from the Times, Style.com, the Telegraph, etc., were present to witness West’s fashion line’s debut. As much as they hated on the clothes he showed, they evidently took the show seriously enough to show up at all. After all, they could write equally unkind things about the Kardashians’ Bebe collection, which showed in New York once, or Avril Lavigne’s Abbey Dawn line, which showed in New York this season, but they don’t waste their energy.
• The designers. Also populating West’s front row was Azzedine Alaïa, DSquared2’s Dean and Dan Caten, Olivier Theyskens, Jeremy Scott, and the Olsen twins. Sure, maybe they all went just to feel a little bit better about their own work as designers, but even so, Alaïa doesn’t go to a fashion show for just anybody.
• That one pair of color-blocked pants. See intro paragraph above.
• The staging was “impeccable,” according to Style.com. Which it ought to be, since Kanye’s main job as a performer is to stage things well.
• He’s sat front row at enough fashion shows over the past five years or so years to ingratiate himself in the fashion crowd. “I did not want to miss it,” Bergdorf fashion director Linda Fargo told the Times. She sat next to Kanye at a show once: “We had a running commentary throughout the whole show, and he was really into it. Everything I was reacting to, he was reacting to.”
• He speaks in vagaries, as designers tend to. “I had a lot of ideas about colors and shapes I wanted to express,” he told the Times.
• His inspiration was not the most popular among celebrity designers — “what I would wear.” And you can’t even say that’s just because he made lady things, because he wears women’s clothessometimes.
• He had a few all-white looks. At least he’s on trend in that way!
• The model cast. He had Karlie Kloss, Anja Rubik, Chanel Iman, Izabel Goulart and many more of the best models working in the business.
• The show wasn’t boring, and you can’t always say that of many established designers.
• He didn’t call it “Kanye’s Kollection.”
What Kanye Got Wrong
• The clothes did not fit. Maybe that’s because he supposedly made them in three days with the help of Central St. Martins students in a makeshift atelier in London, which is a whole other set of problems.
• In their write-up of the show, The Wall Street Journal referenced Lindsay Lohan’s disastrous debut at Emanuel Ungaro. To be fair, Kanye didn’t show any glitter pasties in cutesy shapes or cry when he took his bow at the end.
• Well, according to the Telegraph: “Kanye West’s fashion debut was like being subjected to an hour long MRI scan — but not as much fun.”
• The collection didn’t look like he allowed a real designer to do a bulk of the work for him. Lots of celebrities have real, trained designers designing their clothing lines behind the scenes. In fact, probably anyone who was an actress or singer before their name was on a clothing label does. The result for them is they get a collection that can sell and works as clothing normal people might actually want to wear. In this way, the clothing business isn’t fair, since it’s much more difficult for designers to flip careers and pretend to be rappers.
• The dresses with the deep, deep, deep plunging necklines. I’d guess the average woman with disposable income for high-end designer clothes is about as interested in showing that much skin as they are in being Snooki.
• Lindsay Lohan was at the show, wearing a truly unflattering blush-pink look.
• The metallic pants. No one can wear metallic pants and look good. Maybe Karlie Kloss and Anja Rubik can. So: no one.