Last fall, Kanye West debuted his DW by Kanye West fashion line in Paris (much like his think-tank/space-engineering/charter school DONDA, it is named after his late mother). And it. Did not. Go well. Not since 808s & Heartbreak had West faced such animosity from critics for his creative pursuits, and at least with 808s he had peace of mind from knowing the sales numbers were still good. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I understand what about the high-end fashion these fancy people didn’t like; look, the clothes weren’t popping, OK? But what it meant was that ‘Ye faced down a firing line of snark and dismissiveness and had no mitigations in which to find solace.
But this is Kanye West we’re talking about here. The man doesn’t ever give up.
And so, yesterday, Kanye found himself back in Paris, and back unveiling a line of clothing. And this time — this time it went slightly better. Let’s listen to some people who have more of an idea what they’re talking about. Says Miss Info: “Yes, the dark haute-goth looks were very Givenchy-Mcqueen-Balenciaga-ish. Very. But given the scathing criticism he got last year, it’s clear Kanye had better planning, better execution, and vastly better fittings this time around.” Says The Cut: “Fuzzy peplums, crop tops, and backless leather jackets all made appearances, as did a black fur backpack. A common silhouette seemed to be a figure-hugging pencil skirt trimmed with a single ruffle at the knee. Reviews are in, and they’re mostly optimistic. Many critics noted the collection’s similarities to Givenchy.” The Cut also pulled together some other reviews, which were decidedly mixed. Vogue said: “It felt like an odd sort of joke. Was it better than last season? In that the clothes weren’t ill-fitting enough to fall off the models in the same way, yes … All the trimmings but without the substance — yet — like a boy playing at being a big fashion designer.” Style.com was a little bit nicer: “It was a declaration that West is learning self-discipline in design, and he amplified it aggressively with the martial music, the harsh makeup, the gladiatorial footwear, the odd croc collars … West won a much-improved badge.”
It’s obvious to anyone who’s ever seen three minutes of The Pickup Artist what’s happening here. The backhanded compliments? The mean put-downs that aren’t quite complete repudiations? The fashion world is negging Kanye West. Our dude wants in so bad but the clothes cognoscenti know that if they just let him in to conquer their world, his fickle, overactive genius brain will just move on to the next Everest. And so, for now, they neg, making Kanye ever more desirous of their culture.
Listen to how awesome his afterparty was: “Kim Kardashian was dressed head to toe in Kanye’s spring 2012 collection, complete with those $6,000 shoes everyone’s all worked up about. Anna Wintour was there, and apparently even smiled when go-karts started zipping around an indoor track along the runway.” Fashion critics: You are going to look me dead in the eyes and tell me honestly that this guy doesn’t deserve to hang out? Are you kidding me?