Opinion

Saturday 15 December 2018

Kanye's cast of Kim clones pays homage to Kardashian effect

We will look back in admiration at how this family changed the digital landscape, writes Sophie Donaldson

PR STUNT: A group of minor celebrities dressed in the Yeezy collection and platinum Kim wigs
PR STUNT: A group of minor celebrities dressed in the Yeezy collection and platinum Kim wigs
Sophie Donaldson

Sophie Donaldson

It was the fashion stunt of 2017. As the year was about to wrap up, Kanye West debuted the latest collection from his eponymous label, Yeezy.

Rather than a traditional catwalk show or campaign shoot, he dressed his wife and muse, Kim Kardashian, in the collection and photographed her in a series of mock-paparazzi scenarios.

Kim uploaded the images to her social media accounts, sending fans and fashion diehards into a frenzy.

There she was in a crop top, sweat pants and stilettos closing the door of her SVU; there again, striding purposely in a sports bra and stiletto boots with Starbucks cup in hand; then doing the classic door-to-dinner strut in a bra top and miniskirt. She was photographed in an oversized jacket, as in: "I just threw this on" while making a late-night visit to her local 7-Eleven for an ice cream. In all the photos she has the glazed look of somebody purposely looking away from the camera, an expression that jars somewhat with the tits-out, tummy-in stance of a person very much aware there is a mega-zoom lens trained on their every move.

In the images, Kim's high-voltage glamour is foiled by the mundanity of her surroundings. Cleverly, it is a depiction that captures the very essence of her appeal.

The Kardashians are highly polished but their surroundings never are. Their femme-bot beauty is nearly always captured via a selfie taken in a loo with a scatter of make-up in the back ground. They may look out of this world, but they certainly live in the same one we do. They have messy bedrooms and crumpled bedsheets and an untidy wardrobe; we know all of this because we are privy to their intimate lives via a multitude of media.

An unexpected twist followed last week with the release of a new set of images featuring "Kim clones", who were, in fact, a handpicked group of minor celebrities, including Paris Hilton, dressed in the Yeezy collection and platinum blonde Kim wigs.

The clones simultaneously uploaded the images to their feeds and boom - the internet broke once more.

Not only did he harness the social media clout of these Insta-famous women but Kanye once again highlighted the cultural impact of his wife without saying a word. The group of clones were representative of the millions of women around the world who emulate Kim and her sisters on a daily basis.

These clones exist beyond Kanye's fashion fantasy - the Kardashian effect is just as likely to be seen on an Irish teenager as it is on a glamour model. Kanye's campaign has been well received. Fashion magazine Dazed described it as "fashion genius" and "one of the most original ideas of 2017". Cult streetwear website Highsnobiety declared the campaign proves "Kanye & Kim Understand 2017 Better Than Anyone".

Vogue.com described it as a "spectacle" while The New York Times declared "Kanye West Finally Gets His Fashion Right".

Not only does Kanye have the approval of some of the world's most influential fashion publications, it seems he has even inspired fellow designers. Last week Balenciaga, arguably the most highly regarded fashion label of the moment, debuted its new season campaign shoot. It features a bevy of models dressed in Balenciaga and photographed amidst, you guessed it, mock-paparazzi scenes.

This latest turn of events has confirmed a long-held suspicion - that in the future, we will look back at the cultural impact of the Kardashians and give them credit where credit is due.

This family has single-handedly changed societal attitudes towards body shape, beauty, gender identity and sexuality (thanks to Caitlyn), sex, sisterhood, child rearing, pregnancy and family values. They have also changed the digital landscape, writing their own rules when it comes to e-commerce, social media, public relations, reality television and personal branding.

If you still aren't convinced of Kanye's artistic genius or Kim's cultural pull, then at least you'll have to admit his choice of casting was a savvy one indeed. If your wife was the world's most photographed woman, why on earth bother hiring anybody else?

Sunday Independent

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