On Set with Kim & Kanye: Behind the BAZAAR ICONS Shoot

‘This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR U.S September 2016 Issue

By August 11, 2016


Paris—Karl Lagerfeld’s studio, June 13, 2016.


STEPHEN GAN What is it like to be dubbed a fashion icon by Carine Roitfeld?

KIM KARDASHIAN WEST It’s such an honor. I have always loved and respected Carine’s style and her taste, so for her to choose Kanye and I is such a big deal. It was such a challenge at the beginning, no one would send clothes—they didn’t even think that I would fit a sample size. They would see photos and just think that I was super curvy. Even now there are some designers that swear that I will never fit in a sample size. I’m a size two. I happen to be curvy, but for some reason I’m the master of squeezing into anything, and so it’s fun to see when a designer finally sends something and they’re like, “Wait, she really fit in that sample size.” It’s hard to find things that are unique and also fit my body type, and that are ahead of the curve and ahead of the game. I love always elevating and trying new things and I think that’s where Kanye comes in, because I swear he sees everything a few steps ahead of anyone else. Kanye is a big part of my fashion story and my fashion transformation. He’s my best stylist. Every look I love is definitely something that he’s had a hand in helping to style or put together. My friends and my sisters will say, “I’ve never met anyone like you two who will just sit in a closet for hours and try on clothes and cut things up and redesign them.” We just love it, and we spend a lot of time on it. We do put a lot of effort into the looks and trying to stay ahead of the game.

SG What do you think of Paris? How often do you come with Kanye?

KKW I wish we were here longer, we’re only here for one day, but I’ll definitely be back for the [fashion] shows this year. Paris is such a big part of my story with Kanye. When he had his second fashion show, I hadn’t really left the house, I was just sitting at home hanging out a lot and he invited me to his show and my friends were like, “Why not? Just go!” That kind of sparked my relationship. We first really fell in love in Paris. And even though we got married in Italy, we spent our whole week here getting ready. All of our guests thought that we were getting married in Paris. We were going to, and then we switched the venue a month before, surprising everyone by telling them to come to Paris thinking that’s where it would be. We did our bachelorette and bachelor dinners and parties and welcome party and then our rehearsal dinner at Versaille and then we told everyone, “Hey guys, we’re not really getting married in Paris, everyone be outside by 11am and planes will take everyone to Italy.” Paris was really part of our wedding, we have such an emotional connection here.
Karl Lagerfeld

Photography: Karl Lagerfeld

Photogaphy: Karl Largerfeld, Harper’s BAZAAR U.S


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STEVEN GAN Talk to me about those midnight phone calls I get from you, with you obsessing about your clothes and fashion. Where does that come from?

KANYE WEST My heroes are people who have been in a position to shape our world. The influencers have been my biggest inspiration, and my biggest fight is to have this level of influence, this undeniable level of influence, and the fear of losing the influence before gaining the ticket to freedom. It’s balancing what it takes to become a celebrity—which is a very powerful platform as an influencer—but also to be able to say, “Hey, I’m an influencer, but I also have ideas,” which is sometimes hard for people to get past. Whenever I meet people, there are so many things that have been put in their mind about me, it’s hard to talk pass that.

SG What are you going to be doing the night of the Bazaar Icons event?

KW Every time I go out I want to embrace this incredible opportunity I’ve had to live my dreams as a musician, but [I also want to be] at this level of relevance 20 years into my career, to still be burning at the top level. I think that I’m really close to—if not at the center of—changes in our time. I make the most sought after sneaker, and we’re within 100 years of the sneaker being created. You think of Roman times, or Jesus times, and the first word that comes to mind is ‘robes.’ People will look back at our time 1,000 years from now and they’ll say ‘sneakers.’ My wife is the face of the change of fashion, where designers who literally wouldn’t let her sit in shows are now making entire collections based off of her shape. It’s funny, for Kim to be photographed so much, [she] represents our modern day Marie Antoinette. She gets hair and makeup every day, not just for a photo shoot. Why? Because every day is a photo shoot. I’ve built a company that has value against all odds. Every idea I have, I have to do it, I have to stand by it, I have to win. Because if I don’t win, then Tyler [the Creator] doesn’t do his own fashion show. Then Hood by Air doesn’t make it into the house. I won’t name names, but there’s some people that have one collection and then instantly got a house. And HBA had the energy like that, like never get a house. And it’s not just a black thing, because it will become the anomaly and it’ll flip—everybody will want black designers as soon as they see it break. I have 22 Grammys, but I’ve never won against a white person. I only win in black categories. Think about that. And another thing that’s disturbing to me is that when you work in fashion, because I have a ‘lower cred’ in fashion, sometimes I find myself getting bullied by creatives. People try to force their ideas on me or use me as a platform, to use me to get paid, to use my name, and also just to get their idea out. And there’s times where I reach my breaking point.


Photogaphy: Karl Largerfeld, Harper’s BAZAAR U.S


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STEVEN GAN What do you think about their fashion, and Kim’s style?

KARL LAGERFELD It’s their style. His music is great, his recent album is great. She is a number. She is a personality. She has nothing to do with a tall model but people are more interested in her than in models. I think it’s an interesting phenomenon of our days.

SG What do you think of her silhouette?

KL She carries herself so well. It’s everything people don’t expect in fashion. But she knows how to manage it. It’s a very special silhouette. Her skin is beautiful. In a way she is very seductive.

SG How did the idea of the cell phone in the pictures start?

KL This is a generation, and a group of people who live with the selfies. I think it’s what they do at home. This generation is totally related to the cell phone and things like this. I think it was an element to introduce in the shoot because it’s about the fashion of today.

STEPHEN GAN How would you describe Kanye?

CARINE ROITFELD I think Kanye is a genius. He tried to be a star in fashion, it was very difficult, he worked hard, and now after Yeezy Season 3 I think he has become a big name in fashion, and I am very proud of him because it was not easy—no one makes his life easy. He’s a fighter. So I think that at the same time, to be a great singer, a great artist, and to make your dream become a reality is very interesting.

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SG And what about Kim? Sometimes people don’t think of her as the most fashionable, and here you are saying that she is a fashion icon for you. How do you feel about that?

CR I’m a bit fearless in fashion and take what is impossible to do. Me as a French person, I didn’t know all of these politics you have in America. I was a bit naïve, maybe. I just thought, “Oh my gosh, she is beautiful, maybe it would be nice to introduce her to Karl!” And it was at that moment that I understood people had a problem with her because no one wanted to give me an outfit for her. No one wanted to help me dress her, except Riccardo [Tisci] of course. But I think that moment of Kim meeting Karl, directed by Riccardo, was something exceptional. She has a different body than a lot of American models, and honestly it’s not easy to dress Kim from the runway clothes, but for me that’s never a problem. Even with Lara we have the same issue, no one wanted to dress her because she was one size bigger than the models. I always prefer the face and the character to the size of the girl. Kim had something very interesting because she created a new shape of the body. For me, I’m so skinny and so small, it’s what excited me—to see someone with such a shape and a body. I like her and I think she’s very comfortable in her body. It’s true, at first you think she’s not going to be the easiest person to dress, but then she fits everything. Because when you’re a great model, you can fit anything you want. And I like that she gives confidence, and she’s polite: she says goodbye and thank you to every person on set. I think there’s a controversy about her, but something we can say to Kris, her mother, is that she was very well raised and very well educated. This is very important for me.

Creative Director: Steven Gan; hair: Eugene Souleiman; makeup: Tom Pecheux; manicures: Anny Errandonea; Set Design: Louis Benzoni; Casting and Production: Evelien Joos; Sittings Editors: Ben Perreira; Art Directors: Jim Kaemmerling and Jeremy Kaye; DOP: Amilcare Canali; Music: GRZ; Directed by: Marco Adamo Graziosi & Maria Host-Ivessich