If there’s anything Kanye West proved about his style-icon status this past weekend, it’s his ability to know when to bend the rules of menswear, and when to follow them. West’s transformation from early-2000s trendhumper to modern couture connoisseur is a style history paved with missteps that have ultimately made him a better-dressed man. He’s tried it all and has worn enough risky looks to figure out what works for him and what looks best for the occasion—and for an occasion like his wedding to Kim Kardashian, West shows that he’s truly mastered his personal style.
Kanye West knows the rules well enough to pick and choose which ones he feels like breaking.
Just last month, fashion folks were abuzz wondering what the world’s most stylish men would show up wearing to the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met Gala—colloquially known as the fashion industry’s version of prom—is where celebrities usually take a backseat to lauded designers who use the night as an opportunity to show off their most elegant stuff on the hottest stars.
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour dictated the night’s dress code: “white tie and decorations” for men, a super modest look that called for jackets with tails and white bow ties. The reason for the totally traditional aesthetic? The gala was feting an exhibit featuring the works of Charles James, an American designer (by way of Britain) with a penchant for highly structured clothes that oozed with old-fashioned elegance.
When media fashion outlet WWD looked into their crystal ball to make style predictions, they framed Kanye West as a style rebel—depicting him in a camouflage tuxedo with Balenciaga-esque white sneakers. So it was quite a surprise when West hit the red carpet adhering to the dress code (except for his lack of a bow tie), wearing a crisp Lanvin tuxedo with tails, a white Givenchy shirt, and patent leather boots from Balenciaga. Kim Kardashian meanwhile, stood out in a forest green Lanvin Dress, but West’s menswear coup balanced tradition with a modern affectation—the increasing irrelevance of the bow tie.
As the date of the West-Kardashian nuptials drew near, one question kept popping up in the minds of Kanye stand and menswear nerds alike: What was Kanye going to wear as a groom? Bits and pieces of information began to seep through hardcore fan bases on Twitter and Tumblr. Most notably, Valentino Garavani would be hosting a brunch for the couple in Paris, prior to a rehearsal dinner later that evening. Images cropped up of West and Kardashian heading to Garavani’s estate, with the groom-to-be already dressed to the nines in a midnight blue Valentino tuxedo (that retails for about $2,700) and a black leather shirt underneath, buttoned all the way to the top, sans neckwear.
Later that night, West and Kardashian stepped out to their rehearsal dinner in coordinating plunging necklines courtesy of Maison Martin Margiela. The bride-to-be wore a revealing asymmetrically cut white dress with a thigh-high slit, while the future groom rocked a beige tux with a black T-shirt. So far, all the style signs indicated that the main event would flout menswear conventions, and see a tie-less groom.
The day of the wedding, the big news in the fashion world was that West, Kardashian, and even baby North West went through the ceremony decked out in custom Givenchy. Photos of Kim as a radiant bride circulated, as did a decidedly dressed-down reception, where Jaden Smith wore a weird Batman costume and the newlyweds threw on customized jackets (Schott for Kanye, BLKDNM for Kim) with “Just Married” hand-painted by Wes Lang on the back. But when photos of Kanye West’s groom gear finally surfaced, the outfit pretty much stuck to the program. West’s custom Givenchy kit was tailored perfectly and showed a lot of restraint on his part—he even wore a bow tie!