March 7, 2012

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Paris Fashion Week: Kanye West Fall 2012

When photos of Kanye West's Fall 2012 collection surfaced yesterday, I tweeted, "I said it last season and I'll say it again, Kanye West wasn't THAT bad," which was perceived as a standing ovation among a slew of 140 character negative reviews. It most certainly wasn't, so I've decided to expand on this, in (surprise!) this post.

First of all, I'm not saying that Kanye West's collection was good, because I honestly don't think it was particularly good. I'm just saying that it wasn't as bad as one would assume, after searching any social media platform and reading many of the show's reviews. So why so much hate for Kanye? I think much of it is because he's Kanye West, the man with the infamously enormous ego. Why wouldn't you want to knock the dude down a few notches? The Gay Fish thinks he can be a fashion designer now too? There aren't a lot of people in Kanye's corner with this one, and it seems like we're entertained by seeing Kanye fail in this arena.

What's unfair, is that Kanye West is not the first designer to struggle finding his voice (although this season makes much more sense than the last) and honestly, I've seen so much worse. In the three seasons I've covered New York Fashion Week, I have seen some shit -- and I literally mean something a human or animal could have pooped out, put on a model, called clothing, and walked down a runway. Yet in most situations, the critics don't attack. A designer debuting his or her first flop can be forgotten, can go back to the drawing board, and continue to learn and develop as a designer. Kanye West can't do this, because he's Kanye freaking West and is as high-profile as celebrities come, regardless of whether or not he chose to show in Paris among the greats. So when Kanye said "I'm awesome at everything and I'm going to be a fashion designer," everyone else said, "well, we can't f*cking wait to see this disaster." So when his efforts are less than stellar, we pounce.

And strangely, I feel bad for the guy. Maybe it's because I've always been a big fan of his music and loved his most recent Watch the Throne tour enough to give him a pass on this, but maybe it's because he's just trying so hard. His passion is impressive, and I respect the sincere effort he puts into his work. A lot of celebrities could just slap their name on a collection, pop by the show each season for a quick bow, and make tons of money (oh hey, Gwen Stefani) but Kanye doesn't. He's invested significantly in this: his first collection was paid for out of his own pocket. He wants to learn, and he's worked with Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Giuseppe Zanotti, and has spent time gathering advice from highly respected people like Azzedine Alaïa. He desperately wants this, and he's working hard for it.

I honestly don't know why I'm defending him, since as mentioned, I didn't particularly like the collection. But while we're being pro-Ye, let's talk about what he did right. The Louis Vuitton Don knows luxury, and this collection is just that: there is so much velvet, leather, fur, and exotic crocodile skin, which has also been a major trend across many Fall '12 runways. He killed at least 100 animals for this, so you know he's taking this shit seriously. Also, there are definite, wearable pieces: I do like some of the tops and the outerwear. Although the gladiator boots scream his buddy Kim Kardashian's name and are not my steeze, I still think they're cool and that the other footwear is interesting. Nevertheless, I won't say that I think this collection is good: it's just not that bad. At the end of the day, I agree with Tim Blanks: he does win a badge for "most-improved."

The entire collection is posted below. Let me know what you think in the comments!

all photos via

ps. I did a quick interview with Calgary Fashion this week. Read it, if you dare.



  1. "He wants to learn" -- it's called design school. Not that everyone has to go to design school to be a successful designer, but it does teach one how to critically think about design. That's where Kanye fails. He is not open to criticism; his collections are devout of any personality (because he hasn't been doing this long enough to develop one). The clothes themselves are not that bad, but they are just blank and empty -- there is nothing there other that regurgitation of old ideas from Celine, Alaia, and maybe some Wang. He'd be better off showing in New York; Paris is for pros and he is clearly not one.

    1. I think he did take design classes, I remember reading that he was studying at central saint martins, and he may have also in japan (although I'm not sure where).

      I also don't think he should show in Paris - placing himself among those designers is obviously a major reflection of his ego. And so is showing at the same space where Alber Elbaz JUST celebrated his 10 years at Lanvin. What I'm saying is that he's so high profile it doesn't matter where he shows, he'll be under a very harsh microscope, and it's unfair that his celebrity status doesn't permit him the learning curve that a new, unknown designer would have. Even if he tucked his ego aside and skipped the big PFW spectacle in exchange for a small, exclusive presentation, he would be scrutinized.

      I still don't know why I'm defending him and his big bag of douche. haha.

    2. I think critics (especially NY Times) are more professional than to give someone a bad review just because they are a celebrity. I think they look at the clothes first and foremost and those, well, were all over the place.

      I actually want him to succeed but what's pissing me off is that he is unable to take any criticism and learn from it. Cancelling press previews, because they "hurt" your feelings last time, won't win you any favours. It just makes you look like an asshole that is afraid to face the reality. He wants it all too soon, too fast, using his celebrity to jump through hurdles that most young designers have to go through. It's a right of passage.

      Phew! (Still love him though.)

  2. I definitely think this is a big improvement over the last showing. I can see a much better sense of design in many of the pieces and some have real merit - there's also an enhanced cohesiveness to the collection that was really absent in the earlier collection.

    Courtney ~

    1. Agreed, he's improved! NOT great, or really good, but better. I think he'll find his voice eventually, it just takes time.

  3. I really liked this post and I really do not like Kanye West. If we are being honest with ourselves we will agree with you that the collection is not bad. It is pretty okay. The first two looks are my favourite.
    Thanks for sharing because I really would not have cared to look up his collection otherwise :)

    XO Veronica

  4. This is definitely better than past collections... and I do like it a lot.. I don't think is anything that innovative though.. but the pieces by istelf worn differently could totally work, and yet the outfits he created look great too... it's more commercial than artistic or creative, but I think he did well and he'll keep pushing the envelope a little bit further every time... and I say all this without liking the guy.. I could have joined the forces that are trying to knock him down but I gotta admit I did "like" the collection.
    Great review on your post

  5. I love the fashion!! Kanye is definitely making all of the right choices!

  6. yes he has gotten better but he still needs to work on those boots...