Friday 24 November 2017

Going West: Hip, stylish and hot girls ... but where's the talent, Kanye

Aisling O’Connor on Kanye West’s flash catwalk debut at Paris Fashion Week

NO stranger to the front rows at fashion shows, new designer on the block, Kanye West, presented his debut collection on Saturday night at Paris Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2012.

Fashion heavy weights Anna Wintour, Alexander Wang, Azzedine Alaia, Dean and Dan Caten, Olivier Theyksens and Jeremy Scott sat front and centre to support the rapper-turned-designer. The rest of us refreshed our Twitter news feed to see if everything this self-proclaimed 'genius' touches turns to gold.

Kanye knew what he was doing - to a point. Like his videos and concerts the vibe was hip & stylish; hot girls and booming music at a neo-classical Parisian library turned ultra-modern violet light-box. However the credibility of the collection itself and Kanye's design process was the buzzing topic in the fashion media, both before and after the show.

When the curtain was raised and the girls did their little turn on the catwalk, it appeared that the problem for Kanye establishing himself as a bonafide fashion designer was an apparent lack of design talent.

It is unclear who actually designed the collection. Among those he admitted to bouncing ideas off are Louise Wilson of London fashion school, Central Saint Martins as well as Kim Jones and Louise Goldin. Did he present this collection as being designed personally by 'Kanye the fashion designer' or are we to understand that this as the 'House of West' with Kanye as the director of a team of designers?

A lack of cohesion (with the exception of zips, cut outs and, rather bizarrely, fur for Spring) leads one to the conclusion that it was created by faceless designers with direction from Kanye: 'I like this', 'Don't like that', 'Let's do more zips', 'Mini-skirts are sexy', ‘Fur is really hot right now’.

He brought nothing new to the plate. There was no clear individual creative vision but a fashion collection by numbers - a representation of current trends and innovations by existing designers.

What made this collection sink even further in the estimation of the fashion press was the fit. The tailoring was terrible, allegedly due to lateness in fitting. More attention to line and fit would have saved this debut from being fashion road kill. It is possible that the creative was lost in the ill fit, just like the super skinny supermodels.

The quality of the work on the clothes seemed half-assed - like he took his ‘Midas Touch’ for granted. It would be blasphemy to develop an idea that has emerged from the mind of a modern multi-platform artist. There is a whiff of a sense of entitlement to a fashion career because he is creative, he is interested in fashion and he has the money.

Kanye wants to be a womenswear designer that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the other designers at Paris Fashion Week. He said after his show that he was scared to present this collection for fear of being just another rapper-designer. Many hip-hop artists have successfully launched denim and sportswear lines but he seems to want to emulate Victoria Beckham's critical success.

One could speculate that he took the same approach to his debut collection as to his music - a mish-mash of samples and trends with his face on the front. No sheet music here - did he even put pencil to sketch pad?

Post-show, the same questions go unanswered. If we separate the arrogance from the there a fashion designer here? Is this where fashion is going; the work of talented yet faceless designers presented by a celebrity big name?

Kanye has his work cut out for him with the press if he plans to present for Fall-Winter 2012/13. No amount of air kisses from supermodels and Kanye’s fan-base hungry fashion friends will compensate for the headline by The Telegraph’s Lisa Armstrong, ‘Stick to the day job…Kanye West’s Paris Fashion Week debut was rap with a capital-C’.

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