Ready To Wear: Why be so down on a rapper's debut on the catwalk?


Susannah Frankel
Monday 10 October 2011 00:00

The sight of front-row faces at Kanye West's debut show made it worth attending alone.

Jaws dropped, sighs were heaved and notebooks snapped closed as fashion editors balked at the audacity of his presentation, which might have been big budget but was in no way up there with the main players.

As for the reviews... "His collection of sexpot low-bodice dresses and skin-tight pants, decked out with heaps of ginger fur did not inspire the fashion crowd to tell him to give up his day job," wrote the International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes. "There was one good-looking pair of colour-blocked pants in blue and coral, but it was obvious that most of the clothes suffered from poor fit," declared Eric Wilson of The New York Times while the Daily Telegraph described the entire affair as "a stupendously vacuous enterprise".

But what did anyone expect? And why, in a world which embraces collections by Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham, is it not possible to welcome West into the mix too?

He has the credentials. He has been front row at the biggest shows for years and has collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Hermès – fashion company doesn't get much better. That the looks were bombastic to the point where they challenged at least some taste levels is equally predictable. One word: Balmain.

In fact, to this reviewer's mind, the event was hugely entertaining. From the ultra-violet catwalk – shades of Tom Ford circa 1998 – to the flashing of flesh (human) against exotic skin (reptilian), it was heartfelt at least. VB's faux "I know I'm not really a designer but I'm learning" humility, meanwhile, is an affront to the intelligence of all those whose job it is to comment on fashion.

Of course ideally designers should be designers, trained for an increasingly challenging job, and those who crash in on their act should have the good grace to take their bows with the people who cut the patterns and come up with the concept for them behind the scenes.

West's response to criticism proved more resonant than the clothes. "This is my first collection. Please be easy. Please give me a chance to grow. This is not some celebrity s***. I don't f*** with celebrities. I f*** with the creatives in this room, the amazing people who spend every day trying to make the world a more beautiful place."

And I, for one, am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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