Critics Call Kanye West’s Fashion Debut a Mixed Bag

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After weeks of suspense and rampant speculation throughout the fashion industry, Kanye West showed his first womenswear line on Saturday at the library of the Lycee Henri IV on Paris’ Left Bank.  The show was the hottest ticket at Paris Fashion Week, with throngs lined up outside the venue hoping to catch a glimpse of an A-list guest or even West himself.

Among the many notable celebrity attendees were Anna Wintour, Carine Roitfeld, Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Jared Leto.

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Unfortunately, the show seemed to be of interest to critics more for the spectacle than for the clothes themselves.  While the sexy sportswear was, for the most part, wearable, it was overly dependent on heavy leathers and furs, and at times the influence of established designers was too evident.  The extent of West’s involvement in the actual design process is unclear.

West’s spring/summer 2012 debut collection was met with discordant reviews.   Britain’s Telegraph panned it, writing, “Kanye West’s fashion debut was like being subjected to an hour-long MRI scan – but not as much fun.”  The New York Times called it confusing and argued “It was obvious that most of the clothes suffered from a poor fit.”

WWD noted “The collection turned out to be neither triumph nor train wreck…it had the earnest veneer of a beginner.”  Style.com praised the staging and production values, but thought the show itself “suggests that conquering his new medium is a work in progress.”

The Associated Press was more favorable, calling it “a luxurious hard-edged women’s collection that bucked all the stereotypes about celebrity designers.”

His friends, perhaps inevitably, were far more glowing in their praise. The singer Ciara was also in attendance, and told the AP, “He did a great job.  I walked away from this show feeling like I would love to wear this line.”  Designer Jeremy Scott agreed, saying, “Kanye has impeccable taste and you see his taste level is up there.”

Perhaps the most important review was West’s own.  The AP reported that he was nervous prior to the show, but afterwards he told the New York Times, “I’m really happy where I ended up.”

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Allison Berry is a contributor at TIME.  You can continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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