Culture

Tim Gunn, Kanye West & the Emperor's 'Dumb' New Clothes

Recently, West came out with the Spring 2016 ready-to-wear styles from his Yeezy fashion collection, a panoply of dull-colored (the dominant hues vary among wet mud, terra cotta, faded terra cotta and pinkish putty), ill-fitting, sloppy tops and jackets generally tossed over skin-tight, semi-transparent bodysuits worn by models who looked as if they could use a good meal and a night’s sleep.

If West intended to create clothes that look as if somebody put no effort into them, or scrounged them from the back racks of Goodwill, he succeeded mightily.

This may sound harsh, but here’s what The Cut, the fashion blog of New York magazine, had to say:

“Left, right! Left, right!” Those models exited and another batch came out, now dressed in woebegone fatigue jackets and pants, and, I might add, looking rather downcast. They made me think of POWs. The military conceit was apt, given the mind-lock that Kanye has managed to put on the fashion world. This second round of drab, broken-down basics proved he can’t be taken seriously as a designer, 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. Because they wouldn’t bother with this stuff if it were offered by an unknown, and if it’s the spectacle they seek, it changes as little as the clothes.

Style guru Tim Gunn of Lifetime’s “Project Runway” and “Project Runway Junior” (which premiered Nov. 12) caused an Internet flap on Nov. 5 during an interview with HuffPost Live. The full video runs a half hour, but the money segment came when Gunn was asked about West’s sartorial aspirations.

Gunn refers to West’s clothes as “dumb” and “basic.” While West might object to the “dumb” label, “basic” seems to be exactly what he was aiming at.

If you set your bar at being able to churn out drab, mostly unflattering sportswear, then you’re much more likely to succeed. Better yet, if you’re able to convince the public at large that droopy, tattered sweatshirts are the future of fashion, then that’s just a license to print money.

Remarked by GQ in September:

Why should you care about any of this? It’s easy to write this off as just a celebrity with money putting into their narcissistic passion project, but to Kanye West, this is his new passion. He’s said in interviews that he cares more about this right now than music. And if Adidas only sponsoring the show marks a potential end of their relationship, then where does he go from here? With the first collection just set to hit stores next month, the biggest question of all remains—will people actually buy these clothes? Talk is cheap, even music is cheap (we all heard his new song for free today), but buying clothes? That can be pricey. It seems the real test for Mr. West has yet to begin.

As outlined at Racked.com, here’s a look at prices for the fall/winter 2015 Yeezy collection, which came out in stores Oct. 29:

  • Thermal shirt, $405
  • Crewneck, $495
  • Hoodie $545
  • Sweatpants, $585
  • Duck boots, $585
  • Sweater, $1,560
  • Vest, $1,170
  • Camo jacket, $2,210
  • Flight jacket, $3,250

Hey, anyone who’s willing to fork over that amount of folding cash to look disheveled shouldn’t really be criticizing the Kardashians, who at least seem to put a lot of time and work into how they look. And, while their fashion choices may not be elegant or chic, it is evident that they spent a lot of money on them.

But for Gunn, no matter what the cost or the effort, just say no:

I say to people all the time, if you want guidance for your fashion, just consider this: If a Kardashian is wearing it, don’t.

And…

It’s vulgar. Given the amount of public exposure the Kardashians have, to potentially be sending a message to people that you, too, can dress like this, no.

While Gunn thinks that the half-sister of Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, model Kendall Jenner (fathered by Bruce Jenner when he was still admitting to being a man), may be a “lovely young woman,” he adds that she’s “tainted by the Kardashian aura of yuck.”

Gunn does name presidential daughters Sasha and Malia Obama as the antidotes to the Kardashian influence, and professes his “worship” for their mother, Michelle Obama, as a “fashion icon,” but he also gives capitalism its due.

Asked by a HuffPost Live fan about his legacy, Gunn includes a “profound worldwide respect for the American fashion industry,” adding:

When I travel in international circles, people say, “Eh, American fashion’s all about selling.” Well, isn’t any design about whether it’s going to sell or not? I’m proud of the fact that, in this nation, we look at fashion through a lens of commerce. That means the work has to be more creative, not less.

Interestingly, on the subject of leggings, Gunn is perfectly in line with Tennessee mom Jamie Higdon Randolph, who went viral with her Facebook video entitled, “Leggings Ain’t Pants PSA,” in which she advised:

If you can’t wear a shirt that covers your tail, so I can’t tell you got some Aztec-print thongs on, you don’t need to be wearin’ em. That’s rule number one.

Gunn echoed Randolph’s sentiments, saying:

We have to remember what the legacy of a legging is … [it’s] a form of stocking or undergarment. … it covered the leg, and it was meant to be covered up at least to the middle of the thigh. … I have great respect for leggings, just put a tunic over it.