Here’s an interview with Kaye West about his collaboration with Louis Vuitton, style and fashion, music and more. For more information about the collaboration, check out this article.
COLLABORATION WITH LOUIS VUITTON
How did your collaboration with Louis Vuitton come about?
I already knew and looked up to Marc Jacobs. Then Louis Vuitton called me and said they had this idea for me to do shoes. I was really excited about the opportunity. I don’t know if they quite knew what they were getting into asking me to help create something!
How did you work with the teams from Louis Vuitton?
We’d fly out there. They’d have ideas. I’d have ideas and I’d start sketching. I just sketched every idea in my head, women’s, men’s, everything. In the end Louis Vuitton had to narrow it down because I had SO many ideas that I wanted to get out.
How many sneakers did you design?
Ten, but I would have done more.
What inspires you about Louis Vuitton?
They’re the number one fashion house in the world!
What was your image of Louis Vuitton before you became so closely involved with the company, and have your impressions evolved in any way as a result of the collaboration?
They’ve always been my favourite aspirational brand from the day I bought my first wallet. Actually I used to dream of being able to buy their trunks and put them round my house.
Have your impressions evolved in any way as a result of the collaboration?
Hey, I just love the opportunity of being able to work with people who produce on a certain
Why sneakers? (I know you are supposed to own at least 400 pairs)
Because they’re a great entry point for people who can’t afford the trunk, you know.
Also, sneakers, I think, are a way of displaying where you are mentally.
What, for you, makes a great pair of sneakers?
Comfort of course, but also the way they work with different outfits…
What sneakers are you wearing now?
The white boat shoes.
What was your inspiration for this collection?
I was inspired a lot by the movie Dune—remember those big padded collars they wore? Well I did that padded look as a flap at the back.….
So the accent is at the back of the shoe rather than at the front in the ‘tongue’ ?
How did you choose the colors?
The grey brown and fuschia combination in the Tour model is very much a concept I have for clothing. That juxtaposition of soft and electric palette is something I don’t see too often. The exception being Marc Jacobs who has touched on that combination with bags.
Which products are your personal favourites?
The grey boat shoes with pink sole.
And what socks would you wear with those?
Well, that’s interesting. I wanted to make a tube sock with an LV patch on the side to go with them.
STYLE AND FASHION
How would you define your style?
An expression of what I’m feeling today.
Do you feel you’ve got your look ‘down’ perfectly?
Actually I’m constantly trying to learn what looks good on me. It’s kinda hard. It takes a while to really get it, to figure out your style. Most people I know who dress ‘A Plus’ are 35 and older.
Who is an exception to that rule?
The singer, Rihanna, who is 21. She’s kind of like a genius because regardless of how many stylists she has, I know she does it on her own. That’s an innate talent, having style like that. It’s kind of like the way people play sport, some people just hit the shoots into the net better. Yeah. Fashion is a sport in a way.
Are you a fashion genius?
I don’t think I’ve reached genius level yet. It’s good. But its not good enough for me. I want to be better.
So you’re saying style-wise, you’re a perfectionist?
It’s not so much about perfectionism as creativity and needing to constantly evolve.
Do you remember when you first became interested in fashion?
In Kindergarten. I really thought about what I was going to put on every morning.
Who are your fashion icons?
Michael Jackson is the best dressed person of all time. Not today, I can’t say that, but in his hey day. When he was wearing all those jackets covered in Swarovski crystals. And then all those leather jackets and Mickey Mouse t-shirts and those tailored pants and penny loafers. Michael Jackson, he was for real.
What is your best fashion memory?
Getting dressed up to play. If I played football I wanted to put on the whole football outfit. If I wanted to play cops and robbers I had to put on the full cops and robbers outfit. I loved costumes.
What is your favourite item in your wardrobe?
My vintage Levi’s jeans jacket. It’s the perfect, perfect jacket. Someone told me it was really, really good because it’s got the big ‘E’ on the label, which means it’s from a certain year.
What are you wearing right now?
A Schott jacket. It had silver zippers but I had them put plastic ones instead. An old jacket with plastic zippers, it’s a kind of Japanese toy vibe thing.
What do you think is different about French and American attitudes to fashion?
Well, I notice if you’re in the ‘hood’ in Paris, you dress in a hoodie like they do back home. I love that, that the look is straight out of America. Because it wasn’t always thatway.
How do you find the ideas for your music?
I get inspired by concepts, theories, philosophies.
Give me an example.
The saying ‘What Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger’ was an inspiration for the song
That’s from the philosopher Frederick Neitzche!
If you hadn’t been a successful Music artist, what would you have liked to be?
An author, maybe. Although I have already written a book.
What is it called?
Thank You And You’re Welcome.
What’s it about?
It’s basically a manual to show you how to make every part of your life into a ‘thank you and you’re welcome’ moment. People say it’s a little like the book The Secret.
Give me one piece of advice from the book?
Well, my axiom ‘Get used to being used’. People have such negative connotations about the word ‘Use’. To use is necessary. If you can’t use or be used you’re useless. It’s like, You use me? Yeah, well I’m glad to be of use.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Me! Meaning my mistakes, I’ve learnt so much from them!
Oh, so you admit you make mistakes! You have a reputation for having a pretty high opinion of yourself…
It’s true I am super confident and delusionally egotistical but believe me, I have conflicts with myself at night; like, damn, will I be able to make stuff that I like; will I be able to make stuff which will make an impact on the world?
What projects are you working on at present?
I’m in the middle of doing a video with Jared Leto and his band 30 Seconds To Mars. I’m doing a video with the photographer Stephen Klein called ‘Say You Will’. I’m also shooting a video with the director Spike Jonze. Oh and this morning I worked on the video for my song Robocop. My girlfriend got her whole body moulded in prosthetics so she could play a Barbie doll in it. They made the exact shape of her breasts, but with no nipples, just like Barbie…..
How would you describe the experience of Paris / France?
Y’know, when I first went to Paris I used to HATE it. Now it’s one of my favourite cities in the world. I compare Paris to a girl that you meet at a bar who is very rude to you, who you end up falling in love with.
What do you like most about the city?
I like the heritage, the attitude. The vibe I get from Parisiens is highly educated, highly cultured and very impatient. And I’m into that. Paris forces you to step up your game. It forces you NOT to be ignorant about things.
What do you like least?
Nothing. I like it so much I may move there. They used to say if you could make it in New York you could make it anywhere. Well, if you can make it in Paris you can ANNIHILATE the world.
Are you a tough person to work for?
In the beginning I didn’t know how to get respect in a civil manner. I didn’t know you didn’t have to scream and jump up and down. I don’t have to be like that now.
Where is your office?
For me, the world is my office.
How do you take criticism? There are plenty of people, I notice, who like to criticize you on your blog, kanyewestunivercity.com.
Well, you have to figure out why people say those things. Like, were they having a bad day or something? Actually, I think it’s kind of fabulous, people saying stuff like Kanye, you’re a faggot, or Kanye, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. That’s a great blog comment! Because of course I’m taking myself WAY too seriously.
Greatest world leader?
If you could label your style what would it be?
Ah, that’s the thing. Everyone wants to put people in supermarket aisles! The thing is when you do that with people, they just all kind of crash into each other while walking down them. It’s like when I first started making music in high school people couldn’t really describe how I dressed until the worked hip hop was invented. Then they were OK about it. I guess you could say I wear a lot of cultural coats, but I’m more than any label anyone puts on me.
Still. What’s it like being such a fashion icon? Kids of eleven want to dress like you…
Well, you do have this ability, when you are famous, to set trends just by being photographed and that’s really not fair. I shouldn’t get any more credit than the next person for, say, bringing back those Linda Farrow flying shades, I just happened to be wearing the aviators that to me were the most ‘normal’. That doesn’t make me a fashion icon though. People who have TERRIBLE style have the ability to set trends.
How do you deal with your fame?
I deal with it by realizing I’m kind of confined in my walking TV show. Sometimes I feel like I’m an animal at the zoo, with everybody the other side of the glass wanting to see the monkey overreact. It’s a little like being in a cell, but what’s good about living in a cell is I have cellmates. Jay-Z, he’s definitely in my cellblock.
You seem pretty sanguine about your celebrity, and the effect celebrity has had on you. Are you happy?
I’m at war with myself. I know I am in danger of cannibalizing myself, of talking about myself to death. My whole life for the past five years has been all about me.
So what now?
Well, there’s nothing more I could do with my life right now than to make it about helping other people.
What are your goals, then?
If it’s the last thing I do, I want to drop all the bravado that most urban rap artists carry. I want to make new good stuff and not brag about it. Just to do it. One of the other things I’m going to do is to take my next fee—I charge at least $100,000 a verse—and donate it to my charity (the Dr Donda West foundation he started up with his late mother to combat high school drop out rates).
In what aspect do you consider yourself Number One?
Actually, I don’t think I’m number one at anything…except for learning.
So the ability to learn is excellence for you?
I think so. You can never stop learning. Like my grandfather who is 90 and just took a painting class.
If you were marooned on a desert island, which one piece of music and one work of literature would you want to keep?
Could I take another person?
I’d bring my girl (at time of print Amber Rose) or a girl who, hopefully, wouldn’t drive me crazy.
What would be your one item of luxury?
My Louis Vuitton sneaker boots, of course.
How many hours do you sleep per night?
What’s you favourite dessert?
The sticky toffee pudding at the Landmark Hotel in London.
Greatest world leader so far?
What star sign are you?
Yeah? That’s dope.
Image via Louis Vuitton