I must admit that, perhaps unlike others, when I first heard Kanye West was launching a womenswear line, I was rather excited. Not excited in the way that Miu Miu’s glitter boots send me into total sartorial meltdown, or in the same way that the fashion world is waiting to hear who’s replacing Galliano, but in a way that I’m utterly intrigued and entertained by the idea that a jumped-up hip hop star who likes floor-length fur coats and excessive bling could make a go of it in another competitive creative industry.
Of course I had my doubts – one only has to look at Lindsay Lohan’s disastrous streak at Emanuel Ungaro to see that celebrity lines are ill-fated – but I also had hopes of having another Victoria Beckham surprise that sent the industry spinning on the very tables it turns on.
And so it was that Kanye West presented his first fashion collection at Paris Fashion Week on Saturday. He chose Lycée Henri IV, the prestigious public secondary school in the capital’s Latin quarter, to debut his designs, and invited an impressive list of no more than 100 guests who would sit on two single rows either side of the runway.
For all Kanye’s egotistical ways, it was a humble beginning to his career in fashion, and had his collection lived up to the calibre of its high-profile audience – Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld, Alexander Wang, Ciara and the Olsen twins all sat front row – this could have been quite the fashion moment.
Unfortunately, Kanye’s collection was everything it shouldn’t have been, but it wasn’t without effort. The hip-hop star – a regular fashion front-rower and fan, let’s not forget – seeked advice from London designer Louise Goldin after his attempt to enrole at Central Saint Martins was rejected earlier this year.
Despite his discipline, though, he presented a mis-matched collection of ill-fitting separates, inappropriately slashed dresses, jackets that swamped models’ small proportions and far too much fur for even the coolest kids.
Some pieces, like the slim-fit trousers or even the long-sleeved camel dress, were fine, but for the most part, items felt awkward. It wasn’t just that the tailoring was off, it’s that there lacked consistency and theme – apparent, perhaps, in Kanye’s post-show interviews where he fumbled through his inspirations with nerves and anxiety.
But that’s not to say he deserves a hounding. In fact, if his nerves show anything, it’s that he’s serious about his career in fashion – but hard-work and passion does not a designer make.
I dare say Kanye will be back next season, and that the intense criticism over his first foray into design won’t deter him any more than the haters will continue to hate, but I do hope he takes heed of his downfalls. He needs knuckle down, not on his publicity and promotion, but with a trained tailor to learn about cut and fit.
You never know, a moment out of the limelight might just do him good.
Images via Style.com.