The year is 2012.
Kim Kardashian, less than a year after filing for divorce from Kris Humphries, invites her then-boyfriend Kanye West into her closet. The objective? To donate, remove, and ultimately overhaul Kim's style into something that would be fashionable enough for the role of Yeezus' main girl.
This is the beginning of Kim K's current fashion renaissance, and the beginning of Kanye West dressing Kim Kardashian.
We're very familiar with the idea of women dressing their boyfriends and husbands. But when Kanye decides to dress his girl, we not only criticize, we're confused by the idea that a man could have the ability or desire to style his woman in the voluntary, nearly obsessive way that Kanye does. While it's easy to say that Kanye West is simply dressing Kim Kardashian, the bigger picture shows that their relationship is built on a mutual love of fashion, and while Kanye has certainly shaped Kim in his image, it's this love that has not only strengthened her wardrobe, but her public persona as well.
There's little doubt that Kim was dressing like a generic, L.A.-based reality star prior to her relationship with Kanye. If nothing else, countless photos of her walking with Kris Humphries show that Kim focused on emphasizing her boobs and butt above looking stylish. As shown in the episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, not only is Kim nervous about letting Kanye into her wardrobe, she's unwilling to give up pieces that she'd balk at today.
"I was obsessed with glitter, rhinestone heels and the kind of clothes I now laugh at, and he threw them all out." Kim mentions in LOVE. She continues, "I said, 'Well I’m going to save them for my daughter one day.' And he said, 'Well if it’s going to be our daughter, she’s never going to wear those!'"
Yes, with Kanye there is certainly an emphasis on dressing sexier (her recent library of selfies prove that fact on their own), but this is now done in the company of influential fashion faces and designers, wearing brands like Givenchy, Balmain, and Alaia.
With Kanye's help, she upgraded her personal style and overall taste level. It's like Kim is the human embodiment of Kanye's "Blame Game" outro.
Speaking on Kanye's influence in her closet, Kim said: "He is my best stylist... I'd never spent time in London or Paris or seen what style was like around the world, so he wanted to bring stylists from all over the place just to update my look," in her recent LOVE magazine spread. "They brought in things like snakeskin that I had never seen before," she continued.
If you were to look at a photo of her with Humphries in 2011, and a photo of her with Kanye now, not only has the style of her clothing changed, but the scenery as well; you can bet that Kim was not going to be sitting front row at Balenciaga with their daughter if not for the influence of Yeezus. Her whole image—from her hair to her shoes—appears less commonplace, more expensive, and newly refined. For a more direct example, look no further than the difference in her wedding photos.
But this is something we've known for years now. What the LOVE feature shows us is that while Kanye helped show her the way, the interest in dressing better was in Kim all along—she just needed a push in the right direction. The style of celebrities is often derided because many seem uninterested in or too busy to dressing themselves. Instead, they rely on paid stylists who can do the thinking for them. Now, Kim relishes in the hunt for rare fashionable pieces on her own.
"To my fans, they saw this new guy come in and clean out my closet and they thought that was a sign of him being controlling. But it wasn’t that at all. He made me love fashion so much more. Because now I want to find pieces that you can’t find everywhere. I almost want vintage now whereas I didn’t like vintage before," she says in LOVE.
Like any good, loving relationship, partners should bring out the best in each other. In this case, Kim's desire to get closer to Kanye brought out a desire to step her fashion game up. She's stated in the past that she dresses for Ye, and much like being in a relationship pushes you to rid yourself of a bad habit, Kim was inspired by her man to try new clothes and bring her taste level up. It's not that she didn't like fashion before Kanye, she just hadn't realized her full potential.
It's these small improvements that have made her appear as a more fashionable and marketable individual worthy of glossy fashion mag covers. The difference is as clear as the differences between a gossip-y spread about her relationships in Cosmo, and another where Kim stylishly lounges on a beach draped in luxury labels Balmain, Altuzarra, Givenchy, and Tom Ford in Australian Vogue.
Besides, it's not as if the rest of her family (from Kendall to Lord Disick himself) haven't also felt the influence of Yeezus in their own style transformations.
More than anyone in the game, Kanye has the qualifications to enlighten the Kardashian Klan He's set himself apart not for just loving fashion, but wanting to change the way we interact with it. His Nike Air Yeezys changed the way that Nike endorsed and supported non-athletes (until they ultimately chose not to). His A.P.C. collections proved that with an established fashion brand's assistance, he could create clothes that were hyped, not just because his name was on the tag, but that the public wanted to dress themselves in his aesthetic—clothes that Kanye himself would wear. His adidas collaboration is shaping up to be one of the biggest sneaker and apparel releases in recent memory. Kanye is a fashion catalyst. Don't stand too close if you don't want your taste level to be above his waist level.
At this point, Kanye proves he isn't just helping Kim edit her style, he's trying to guide her taste level in all aspects of her life—including showing her the inherent corniness of the reality T.V. network that helped make her famous. He shows off his wife's dress at the GRAMMYs, removes the "E!" logos on the mics because he finds them tacky, and shouts out the questionable taste level of the network.
But don't give Kanye all the credit. It seems that Kim realized early on into her relationship that by wearing the "right" designers or being in the "right" magazine, she would not only be able to increase her public presence, but legitimize her place at the top as one of the most desirable and recognizable figures today.
It's one thing entirely to have a line at Sears, or endorsement deals with brands like Skechers or Carl's Jr. that piggyback off your E! reality television show. That was pre-Kanye Kim.
Now, she has the following things under her Givenchy belt: a Vogue spread, the title of British GQ's "Woman of the Year", an Internet-breaking shoot for Paper, a book of selfies designed by DONDA, and a Balmain ad campaign. Kim's new fashion palate even encroaches to the wardrobe of her wildly successful mobile game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. These are all things that occurred in roughly the last year. Further, they're significant examples of Kanye's hand as editor of her public persona, while simultaneously showing the innate business savvy she's had since well before Yeezy-season approached the Kardashian household. In that way, it's far more genuine that people may want to believe.
For a individual (and some would say, family) that hinges so much on their public image, what does it really mean when one outside figure can come in and make over a modern day media empire? With Kim taking the lead, the introduction of Kanye into Kim's sphere of influence is proof of how to curate your image. What once was considered a generic, even trashy television personality, is now considered by many to be a public fashion icon. Kim, with the help of Kanye has risen from reruns on E! to the cover of Vogue. If you're looking for a symbol of the Kardashian-West-era of pop culture and style that we live in, that's it.
Besides, the reason for this transformation, the "Kimye" marriage, certainly seems genuine.
Like the saying goes, "Yeezy taught me." In Kim Kardashian's case, we don't think that's anything to be ashamed of.