Kanye West’s Second Paris Fashion Show: A Recap

Kanye West’s show was good. I realize this sounds like faint praise or an attempt at side-eyed diplomacy but it’s not. The show was good and it was safe. Anna Wintour told WSJ moments before that she anticipated a “short” show and it was also that. The show was good, safe, and short. There were 20 looks.

It’s not at all what you would expect from Kanye West. Thing is, I’m so used to BANANAS Kanye. Euphoric Kanye. Tweeting-about-DONDA-and-damn-near-breaking-the-Internet Kanye. Kanye who’s going to revolutionize school systems and videos and award shows and music. I just wish he could apply some of that energy and unabashed gassed-ness to fashion. I never thought I’d say this about Kanye West but I just wish he had been more confident. Displayed more of an ego.

You could say that showing at Paris Fashion Week at all is ballsy enough but that’s the other part of it, I expect Kanye to be great. I believe it’s somewhere in there. He needs to find his voice. He needs to go to that place where his eyes get shiny and his expression gets stank and then he needs to sketch some damned clothes. Or yell at the dude doing the sketching with decisive and actionable words.

Fash-analysis pundits may skewer him for the patent nods at Tisci. Rightly. You can see the Givenchy designer’s fingerprints everywhere (evidence above) despite that fact that, interestingly, the designer himself was not there. Kanye’s tulip skirts echo the godets in some of Riccardo’s sculpted leather dresses. There is an ornate burn out velvet that seems a fusty European affect. It’s elegant and expensive but nothing of it smacks of West.

There were backless leather motorcycle jackets. Fur galore by way of patches or the “Gorilla Arms” that marched down the runway in droves at New York. There were crocodile panels on knee-length dresses, a peachy-pinky dress that featured a plunging neck line and a cape. It reminded me of the white, floor-length, cap-sleeved Tom Ford that Gwyneth Paltrow wore to the Oscars except this iteration had the volume turned way down. The model also looked that she had to manually keep the gaping dress from falling off her narrow shoulders.

What Kanye West and his crew of consultants did figure out and well is that their strong suit is accessories. The chokers that are in essence doubled-up belts were genius. The knee-high, ribbed, spike bondage boots were revelatory. Truly. I kinda love that Kanye keeps trying to make fur backpacks happen but the enormous, slouchy bags that looked like backpacks (think Jansport-ish pouch pockets) were brilliant. As were the nimble, little, gold clutches.

The two major criticisms from Kanye’s last foray into high fashion for SS12 was that the clothes did not fit the models nor did they reflect the season (there was a lot of leather and fur). This time, the clothes did fit and this will sound hair-splitty and contrarian but this is also part of the problem. The pants were tight where last they were awkwardly baggy but fashion is about taking up space with new and inventive shapes and leather pants that fit warrant few points on the world stage that is Paris Fashion Week. The fur and leather present for Fall/Winter is a step in the right direction, I suppose. Except it’s more a jog in place.

This collection was better. Markedly. I just hope Kanye West continues to show. And learns to show off. If it’s true what they say and he’s formed a think tank of sartorial smartypantses they should help him realize the visual equivalent of what he’s capable of aurally. This is what I expect of him and I refuse to lower my expectations.

I also hope that he’s enlisted a fly, persuasive bean-counter amongst the ranks of beautiful fash-cronies because I want these clothes to sell. Not, like, “move units” but actually be available for sale in stores. It’s lovely that his $6,000 Giuseppe Zanotti’s can be purchased at Colette and (those shoes are absolutely spectacular) and I appreciate that the occasional embossed leather top can be pulled for editorial (as poetic as it was that it was pulled for Taylor Swift) but this is not couture. It does not sell fragrances. The end is not fantasy or theater (weird racecar track notwithstanding). This is ready-to-wear and Kanye West’s fashion line needs to fit that bill first and foremost.