Kanye West can't wait to carve his niche in the fashion hierarchy. At least that's how his choice of show venue—the same space Alber Elbaz used to celebrate a decade at Lanvin a few days earlier—translated to some skeptics in tonight's audience. And, truth be told, skepticism was rife after West's inauspicious Paris debut as a designer last season. But the element of surprise has always been one of the secret weapons of his music, and it popped up in his sophomore fashion effort by simple virtue of the fact that West won a much-improved badge.
He reduced his first collection's profligacy to a more concise statement in leather, velvet, and astrakhan, most often in black and always wrapping a legging or pencil-skirted lean silhouette. It was a declaration that West is learning self-discipline in design, and he amplified it aggressively with the martial music, the harsh makeup, the gladiatorial footwear, the odd croc collars. The show's tight edit left little room for anything beyond this core statement, but the hard edge still had some light and shade: the use of dévoré, for instance, the more relaxed sweatshirt shapes, and the clutch-coat decorum of the final outfit.
West unleashed his showmanship with a finale that featured gothic go-karts speeding out of the darkness of the Halle Freyssinet. Later, Azealia Banks performed at his party, just as she had at Karl Lagerfeld's dinner a month or so ago. Like Lagerfeld, West has always known how to make worlds collide, in his music, at least. How that talent might translate into an asset for his fashion remains up in the air.