Kanye West divides the fashion world: some see him as a talented designer while others label West a dilettante. The Cut’s fashion critic Cathy Horyn, who’s known for her acerbic wit, is certainly no fan of West’s, saying "Although many people in the industry seem to take him seriously, they only do it because of his performances, and that makes them look like fools. Because they would not care for this collection if it was presented by a stranger. The show is what they want.”
Although his Yeezy spring 2016 collection – shown in September 2015 – made a splash on social media, thanks to its message of diversity, his looks in neutral colors were more the stuff of fun than fashion with a capital ‘F’. However, West won over his critics when his collection sold out and after making the seemingly modest statement that he is not a fashion designer but just trying to solve his friends’ fashion problems.
That said, the 38-year-old does have 11 years of fashion experience at brands, like Givenchy, Margiela, Philip Lim and Balmain. In fact, the famous rhinestone masks that he customized for the Belgian brand Margiela, were used for his performances.
Even his albums had fashion credentials – remember the Louis Vuitton luggage featured the "The College Dropout”? He began to make people rethink their preconceptions about a rapper’s style. He went on to collaborate with Bapesta, launched his own line called Pastelle, in 2007, and interned twice at Fendi. In 2009, he was accepted into the old guard of French fashion houses with his Kanye West x Louis Vuitton sneaker collection.
Although his ego did take a hit in 2011 when he unveiled his spring 2012 collection in Paris. The clothes, described as “baby Balmain” by Vogue.com critic Tim Blanks, certainly did little to impress fashion insiders.
Anna Fusoni, founder of The Fashion Network, believes that his success, both past and present, is down to the fact that he is “a good musician and a born marketer; he knows his story and he knows how to sell it. The only thing worthy from his line is his name”. West’s creative talent is inarguable but for now there are still questions hanging over his fashion designer credentials.