Oh motherfucking Christ on a cracker. I really didn't want to have to do this. I swear. As someone who both self-identifies and is identified by others as a bona fide Kanye Stan, defending Kanye and Kim's Vogue cover admittedly feels like my default setting. But I won't apologize because this Washington Post article, which attempts to flat out discredit Kim and Kanye's "worthiness" is so infuriating, so ignorant and blatantly biased towards the writers elitist sensibilities that someone has to put homegirl in her place.
Cara Kelly, the writer, finds it a compelling argument to list the qualifications of a few previous Vogue cover stars, from Hillary Clinton all the way to, um, Blake Lively, as one of the reasons why Kim is undeserving of such a high honor. See, as the star of an E! reality show, Kim's cultural achievements are no where near the high brow theater and drama that is Gossip Girl. Then, of course, there's the sex tape stuff, because building a multi-million dollar career off of a hastily made video (or as Kanye himself put it, "My girl a superstar all from a home movie") isn't the fucking picture perfect American dream.
Most flagrantly of all is her claim that Kim earned her cover simply by leaning on the influence and whining of her fiance—that, truly, she's made a name for herself in fashion via Kanye's makeovers and connections to people such as Riccardo Tisci. Never mind that this school of thought doesn't take into account the fact that West basically, purposefully ostracized himself from the world of high-fashion in the past year, going so far as to tell people not to shop at Louis Vuitton and quite publicly severing his ties with Nike. What about him having to go on a national radio tour just to plead his case all in the interest of simply to getting a deal with Adidas? And what of Kanye's attempt at launching a high-end women's label in late 2011 and it failing miserably? We should also probably totally disregard the accepted idea that "it's fashion, of all industries, that asks so much more of the men hoping to break into its ranks than the women," right? But, like, nah. Nope. You're right. He's got the whole industry, Anna Wintour included, in the palm of his black hand.
Yes, as much as it sucks to say, that whole "black" thing seems to be an important part of the conversation too. Avoiding for a moment one of this article's comments (since deleted), which calls Kanye West a "thug" (remind me where his gang affiliations lie again?), the author seems to take issue with the fact that Kanye is a strong black man on the cover of her sacred Vogue. See, people of color with what she considers "honorable professions," namely, the inherently submissive acting (she mentions the wildly talented Lupita Nyong'o) would do just fine. But a confident black man who works for himself making music that proclaims "fuck you and your corporation" may be a little too, well, scary. Oh, and that point about her protecting Vogue as something sacred? Yeah, that's no joke. She finds it religious, going so far as to call Kanye's leveraging of his own hard-earned money and alleged pleading with Anna Wintour for his baby mama's cover a "cardinal sin" of the fashion industry.
Name two other people in fashion—no, the world—who have the ability to affect the buying habits of real people at nearly the same level. It's okay, I'll wait.
Is it just me, or is Vogue still a magazine owned by a multi-million dollar company whose sole purpose is to sell magazines? People act like this getting a cover stuff is same as copping an Oscar or even winning a Nobel Prize. Have you seen a Vogue lately? The first 100 fucking pages are ads, and many of the others might as well be. It's celebs plugging products and then a bit of the standard jerking off of LVMH and Kering Group for pages upon pages. When you get rid yourself of the illusion of "fashion journalism," Vogue is just another product. And what better way to sell a product than to put two controversial, yet wildly popular celebrities, each with strong ties in fashion, on the cover?
That's not to say this is a straight troll by the magazine, but merely an acknowledgment of the type of weight Kanye West and Kim Kardashian carry when it comes to clothing. At the end of the day, Kanye West is right when he calls he and Kim some of the most influential celebrities in fashion. It's not even worth having an argument about that. You best believe that when Kim is spotted by paparazzi in some Saint Laurent jeans, women are buying them. Have you ever walked by any of the Kardashian clan's DASH boutiques without seeing a line that rivals any new Nike or Supreme release? And let's not forget about Kanye and his exponential fashion influence. John Elliott, recent GQ 2014 Best New Menswear Designers In America nominee, recently told me that 24 hours after Kanye was spotted wearing his Escobar sweatpants at a high school basketball game, stores were ringing him off the hook asking for the "Kanye Sweats." When it comes to clothing, every single garment this couple touches instantly becomes part of their brand—a status symbol to their multitude of followers. Name two other people in fashion—no, the world—who have the ability to affect the buying habits of real people at nearly the same level. It's okay, I'll wait.
At what point will people give up the ghost of elitism and acknowledge that influence and relevancy are the only real metrics for measuring celebrities? If you're hot, you're hot, and if you're strug, you're strug. Such has always been the case. Sure, Blake Lively is beautiful and talented, but if Kim's shows do more numbers, then isn't she the clear choice for a Vogue cover? Kim may very well be a walking billboard, but she's not exactly shy about this being her chosen profession. Selling is what she does. The question everyone loves to ask is, "What does Kim create?" The answer is simple: everything we're talking about right now. This controversy, buzz and some pretty breathtaking photos (when she's given the chance) are what she gives to the world. And that's why it's so painfully ironic that so many angry online commenters and bloggers think they're helping end Kim's career by talking about it. Kim should be thanking Cara Kelly. Without people like her, Kanye might still be begging for that cover.