'I'm here to crack the pavement.'
At first, the fashion industry was SO anti-Kanye West.
When he debuted his first ever collection at Paris Fashion Week back in 2011, critics commented on the audacity – a rapper-playing-designer trying to throw his weight in the same ring as Dior, Chanel and all the fashion big guns.
Kanye was crushed (well about as crushed as the world’s most famous ego could be) and retreated for a few years, doing business lunches with Karl Lagerfeld, receiving mentoring from Central Saint Martins tutor, Louise Wilson and even spending a whole day working as an intern at GAP.
But then, Yeezus returned, gradually winning over industry insiders with his enormous productions and some pretty incredible statements of determination.
Let’s take a look back at the slightly choppy journey, shall we?
2011: Kanye’s Debut Show
The debut collection from Kanye’s ill-fated high fashion line, DW By Kanye West, was shown at Paris Fashion Week in September 2011, to a super critical audience. His 23 looks were deemed badly cut and irrelevant by editors, who got pretty worked up about him buying his way onto the scared fashion week calendar and choking everyone with dry ice. But, in true Kanye style, defiant Kanye defended his work, saying, ‘It was more artful. It was 30 collections in one. It just takes time for me to slow down and think like a normal person.’
2012: The End Of Kanye…?
In his second and final show for his DW By Kanye West line, Yeezus did little more to impress his critics and it looked like his fashion career could be over before it had even started. He pulled out some supermodel big guns, hiring Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls to model, plus he built a go-kart track for some post-show fun, but still, he cancelled the line before a third season could be shown that September.
2015: Yeezy Season One
Putting his Paris Fashion Week flops behind him, Kanye surprised fans by joining the New York Fashion Week schedule, in collaboration with Adidas Originals, in February 2015. Beyonce, Jay Z, P Diddy and more famous friends turned up to support, as well as wife Kim Kardashian and their toddler North West. ‘I’m here to crack the pavement,’ he announced before the show started. ‘I want to create something better for you.’
2015: Yeezus Returns
Season 2 was Yeezus’ fleshiest display to date, as a choreographed army of models in nude body stockings marched to performance artist Vanessa Beecroft’s drill sergeant barked commands. ‘This second round of drab, broken-down basics proved he can’t be taken seriously as a designer,’ the still unimpressed New York Times critic Cathy Horyn wrote. ‘But nevertheless many people in fashion do seem to take West seriously — they keep showing up expectantly for his performances — and that makes them fools.’
2016: Hail Yeezus
And for his third act, Kanye West’s ‘Yeezy Season Three’, the fashion industry’s most polarising figure took over Madison Square Gardens, inviting 18,000 people to watch his show. He gave his models a 38-point list of rules to follow including ‘no fast movements’, ‘no slow movements’, and our personal favourite ‘DO NOT ACT COOL’. He also invited the crowd to express their opinions, saying, ‘if y’all like it afterwards, feel free to clap.’ No one could deny the scale and impact of the spectacle – and the clothes looked good in the New York athleisure market, too. Kanye, we’re finally tuning in.
Black Friday 2021
Up Next: Kanye For Hermes?
Backstage at his Season 3 show, Kanye announced that he wants to take over the helm of iconic French fashion house Hermes next. Sweet Yeezus, this would sound overly ambitious to most mere mortals. But coming from the man who’s also got plans to take the White House in the same time frame? Sounds totally reasonable to us…