Kanye West debuted his womenswear collection in Paris Saturday, in front of an audience that included the designers Azzedine Alaia, Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Dean and Dan Caten, Olivier Theyskens, Jeremy Scott, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, plus Anna Wintour.
During his after-party that evening at Club Silencio, West grabbed the microphone to make the following speech: “Thank you for anybody that didn’t believe, because they motivated us to break our boundaries. We don’t know what the reviews will be, we don’t know what they will say, but I got a chance to go to Italy and feel those fabrics. I begged Louis Vuitton to let me do more shoes after my shoes sold out in two weeks, and they did not. I begged Nike, I begged this company to let me do it. And I took out motherf*cking loans to get the best models, to get the best designers, to get the best venue. I gave you everything that I had."
He continued: "This is my first collection. Please be easy. Please give me a chance to grow. This is not some celebrity sh*t. I don’t f*ck with celebrities. I f*ck with the creatives in this room, the amazing people who spend every day of their life trying to make the world a more beautiful place. The amount of people that tried to get me a celebrity f*cking deal. They said, ‘You need to do boot-cut jeans, or you won’t sell.’ Shut the f*ck up ! Or Hedi Slimane in the motherf*cking Mercer, sitting with me, saying, ‘Stop giving them your ideas, Kanye. Do your own thing.’ Hedi Slimane! To feel so frustrated. And I thank anybody who came to this party, everybody who supported, everybody who believed, because people thought it was a joke, and maybe people still do, but I can only grow from this point.”
The reviews came in later, and there were some criticisms. Suzy Menkes noted: "Mr. West followed the sexual energy of the Balmain style, with well-made clothes in fine fabrics. But a celebrity tag and a lively audience filled with music-business friends, does not cut it in Paris." WWD wrote: "A white dress with a strip of a racer back and a pair of colorful leather pants were nice. But in general the leathers and cuts were too clunky. The rest of the collection cribbed from the work of the designers he admires, many of whom were sitting in the audience, and whose ranks he intends to join." The New York Times's Eric Wilson blogged: "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." And from The Wall Street Journal: "A vast quantity of luxury materials can’t blind people to a lack of creative marksmanship."
Cathy Horyn writes that the day after the show, West acknowledged criticism like the poor fit and the casting, and: "He was completely open about the learning-curve problems and indicated that he planned to deal with them."