It’s no secret that Kanye West has a serious love affair with fashion. He pops up at runway shows on both sides of the Atlantic regularly including Rodarte and Balmain (whether he is invited or not), and counts the likes of Riccardo Tisci and Raf Simons as his inspiration. All eyes were therefore on the rapper for his Paris Fashion Week debut, which has been in the works for months, to see whether his enthusiasm for fashion would translate into a solid fashion line.
Kanye West Marries Streetwear With Luxury For Paris Fashion Week Debut
By Leah Bourne
Published at 8:01 AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011
Invitations went out just days before the show, revealing the line was called Dw by Kanye West (a tribute to West’s late mother Donda West). The rumor mill went into overdrive leading up to its premiere. One day it, was said he was staging the runway with Maybachs. The next, that Jay Z and Beyonce were going to make a front row appearance.
Neither happened. The show, which was held at Lycée Henri-IV, a high school in Paris’ Latin Quarter, did draw some serious star wattage. The Olsen twins, Jared Leto, Lindsay Lohan and Ciara all sat front row; and a who’s-who of designers were also in attendance, including Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, Azzedine Alaïa and Olivier Theyskens (among others). Anna Wintour also popped up, as did critics like TheNew York Times’ Cathy Horyn and bloggers like Bryanboy and Susie Bubble. A small group of retailers were also in the mix, like Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo and Barneys Fashion Director Amanda Brooks. While the show was intimate -- with only two rows of bench seating on each side of the runway -- it’s clear that West is on the hunt for approval from the fashion elite.
The show opened with a leather skirt suit. Cobalt blue jeans, silver pants, bandage dresses cut to the naval, and nude dresses slashed to reveal skin to the max followed. The color palette was largely black, white and nude with touches of cobalt blue, gold and red. West also married streetwear with luxury -- there was a fox backpack, for instance, and a white crocodile bomber jacket. Most of the looks were accessorized with a gold nameplate necklace. As a testament to West’s star power, just about every major model of the moment walked in the show, including Anja Rubik, Chanel Iman and Karlie Kloss. West took a bow solo at the end of the show, even though he worked on the collection with designer Louise Goldin.
Where the line ran into trouble was with the tailoring (which usually indicates that the collection came together at the last minute). In particular, the structured cocktail dresses just didn’t fit quite right. The biggest question is: who would wear half of this stuff? Barely-there dresses and skintight lamé suits don’t leave room for much of an audience. Plus, the luxury detailing likely indicates that the prices will be sky high.
Critics, overall, seem thus far to agree that the collection wasn't quite up to snuff: The Telegraph's Lisa Armstrong titled her review "Stick to the day job, Kanye West."
One major highlight of the collection was actually the shoes, created in collaboration with Giuseppe Zanotti -- beige beaded tribal stilettos with a serious heel. Perhaps West would be better off sticking to collaborations as he hones his fashion sensibility.