Kanye West Shows His Debut Collection; The World Reacts

By Fawnia Soo Hoo

Well, it finally happened. Rapper, producer, fashion hound extraordinaire Kanye West finally showed his much speculated and buzzed about debut Spring 2012 womenswear collection in Paris this past Saturday evening and, well, it was interesting. First off, amongst his intimate 100 person guest list at the Lycée Henri IV on the Rive Gauche: An A-list crowd of entertainers, fashion luminaries, editors and buyers, including, the Olsen Twins, Anna Wintour, Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, Azzedine Alaïa, Olivier Theyskens, Jeremy Scott, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Glenda Bailey, Ciara, and Lindsay Lohan. West’s star power also roped in a top tier cast of models, including, Anja Rubik, Chanel Iman, Karlie Kloss, and Abbey Lee.

While the rumored samurai-influences didn’t seem to come to fruition, West did show plenty of navel grazing leather dresses, slashed and distressed bandage dresses, rocker zipper details, stark architectural whites, an uncomfortable-looking angular side-gathered skirt, and a fox-fur backpack. For spring.

It was an honorable first effort, so let’s see what the seasoned critics had to say. From the second Anja Rubik hit the runway with the first look, Twitter went crazy.

Jessica Michault of the International Herald Tribune‘s first and much-retweeted opinion? “The Kanye West show, in my humble opinion, is proof that everyone can love fashion but not everyone can be a fashion designer.” And a bit into the show, she observed, “I think that every one of the designers sitting in the front row at Kanye West must have had a deja vue moment at some point during the show.”

Fashion journalist Meenal Mistry followed up with, “To quote my wise former boss Bridget Foley: I sit in chairs, but it doesn’t mean I can be a furniture designer. #pfw #kanyelagerfeld”

Christina Binkley’s headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Good Thing Kanye West Has His Day Job.” Ouch. And in the article, “I liked the perforated black leather. Yet a vast quantity of luxury materials can’t blind people to a lack of creative marksmanship.”

WWD was a bit miffed about West’s refusal to grant pre-show interviews: “It had the earnest veneer of a beginner, which was sort of endearing. Less so was West’s refusal to do interviews leading up to the show. In this business, a little good will goes a long way.”

Eric Wilson of the New York Times threw Kanye a bone: “There was one good-looking pair of color-blocked pants in blue and coral, but it was obvious that most of the clothes suffered from a poor fit.”

Tim Blanks at Style.com was more encouraging: “What we actually saw was something that looked like a baby Balmain vision of womenswear.”

At least the newbie designer has a plethora of reference points to look back on when he starts working on his second collection. Hopefully next time with more lead time.

Take a look at the entire collection on Style.com and decide for yourself.