When Two Kims Got Together

Tight just got tighter

By Mao Shan Wang

In July, when Kim Kardashian posted on Instagram a photo of her with Donatella Versace and Kim Jones (a post liked by over 2.6 million followers to date), those who follow the three of them individually or as a group were quite sure they were up to something. A collab perhaps, I had thought, and you too, I’m sure. When the pairing of Ms Versace and Mr Jones were revealed, many thought Ms Kardashian was left out. But now we know. A collaboration was indeed in the works between the two Kims. That is, in fact, not surprising, but the result is. Well, somewhat. While Fendace was all gaudy-go-not-lightly, the un-named Fendi X Skims (fortunately not Fendims!!!), is rather tasteful (did I just write that?), if a little too tight. But, before you hit back, yes, it is shapewear and what is shapewear if they do not constrict enough to shape? Maybe I am not sure if all the contouring and lifting is that comfortable. If only Skims were available to the staffer assisting Sylvia Chan for the Preetipls shoot. Her angry boss may not then bitchily compare the rapper to a “rhinocerous”, in a three-word sentence that, incredibly, also included the name of an Aramaic-speaking religious leader of the Herodian Kingdom of the Roman empire!

I have to say I have never worn Skims (can you imagine it was initially called Kimono? 😲). The only shapewear I have tried (and I say tried because it was on me for, like, 15 minutes!) was Spanx—I received it as a Christmas gift years ago. It is possible that this name is now largely forgotten, but back then, it was the go-to brand for looking trim or keeping parts of the body from spilling everywhere. It is still big in the US (which is the largest shapewear market, I was told). Now, to make that kind of stretchy inner wear that gives you shape where there may be none, synthetic fabrics are used almost entirely, mainly nylon and spandex, which means they don’t necessarily allow the body/skin to breathe. And in this weather of ours, five minutes outside air-conditioning and you’d start to itch. And in all the wrong places. Fabric technologies have, of course, changed and improved. Skims probably benefits from this. Which may explain the far wider product offering of the Fendi X Skims collab.

Kim Kardashian has already made Skim quite the name in shapewear. It is reportedly now worth more than USD1 billion. She clever describes her offering, “solutions for every body” (Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty caters to just as many bodies, but she calls her shapewear ‘cinchers’). With Fendi, she appears to take it a step further. The collab offers, on top of shapewear, lingerie, swimwear, gym wear, onesies, dresses, and even outerwear (there’s even a hoodie outer). And in colours other than black and ‘skin’. A green which is akin to military fatigues is part of the colour story. Oh, there are bags and shoes too. Is Ms Kardashian readying her brand as a full fashion line? Or are the two Kims acknowledging that more and more women are taking the inners out, showing considerable amount of skin as a result. To be sure, the collection, a limited edition, is not as sexy as I thought it would be. I mean there is a lot of fabric used. At least from the images I have seen so far. Well, if you are going to be logo-centric or monogram-mad, which Fendi is increasingly becoming, you’d need a considerable amount of fabric to have, in this case, the logotype to go on and on and on. Even on the sheers (see-throughs, to some), it is logo galore.

Talking about images, the publicity shots are lensed by Steven Meisel and styled by a name I have not heard for quite a while: Carlyn Cerf de Dudzeele. In 1988, Ms de Dudzeele styled Anna Wintour’s first Vogue cover. Ms Kardashian is, unsurprisingly, placed front and centre in all the images, even the one (above) featuring other women, which I assume is the main image. The casting is, well, inclusive, although the Asian girl Jessie Li is styled to look quite angmo. Amazingly all the models’ hair are in motion or afloat, even when they are seated. To reflect the energy of the collaboration? Not many people are convinced of the need or usefulness of this tie-up. A fashion designer I know texted me to say: “sadly, Karl (Lagerfeld) taught them nothing and left them nothing to use”. Fendi may have gone into haute couture, but I don’t think they wish to avoid the market that is closer to grassroots. There’s a fortune to be made in bodysuits and the like. Kim Kardashian have already proven it. In Korea, the family name Kim (as in Daniel Kim) is the equivalent of the Chinese Jin (金), which also means gold. Is Fendi and Skims heading for that win—double gold, to boot? I really think so.

Fendi X Skims will be available on 9 November (from 9pm, our time) at fendiskims.com. Photos: Kim Kardashian/Instagram. Collage (top): Just so

Kim Kardashian Looks Upholstered

So that you’ll know she’s pretty wrapped up in herself?

By Mao Shan Wang

Kim Kardashian has so many firsts that I stopped counting. Her debut as host of Saturday Night Life this past weekend is certainly one. But watch I did, not count. As her performance went rather smoothly and on-script, it didn’t have the same impact as the sex tapes (2007) or the Vogue cover (2014), or the time she broke the Internet (also 2014, a vintage year). I think it has to do with the jelak factor. Even when she is totally shrouded in black for an event that one attends to be seen: the Met Gala. Can Ms Kardashian, 41, surprise anymore? Sure, she is a savvy businesswoman and, to her fans, a style icon, but can there be more to her that would cause our jaw to drop? In that confidently handled SNL monologue, she already ruled out the possibility of being an American president. However hard I tried, I could not think of anything else I want to see her do except not to see her. Or, to see less of her.

When she walked down the stairs of the set of SNL, I thought it was a stagehand gone rogue, beating her to it by appearing as Miffy with a remade body in the shape of Kanye West’s still-legal-wife. But it was not so. As she moved towards the camera, one question immediately hit me. Why would anyone who would not hesitate to share naked selfies of herself on social media now want to look like a upholstered love seat, removed from a love hotel? And in lurid pink! I am serious. Or, after the Met Gala, should I say re-upholstered? Ms K loves nudity, but now she preferred covering every part of her body—more completely than a sofa. Yes, even her fingers and her toes. Why the strange modesty? Is this a divorce-in-the-process look? The fIngers covered so that no one can see that she is no longer trapped by a wedding ring?

The pink velvet(?) catsuit is designed by Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga. We sort of had a preview of Ms K’s total-onesie in the Paris Fashion Week animated short of the Simpsons walking a Balenciaga show. She was seated in the front row, looking vacuum-sealed. Her face for SNL, however, was not covered. But as with the black outfit—also by Balenciaga—that she wore for the Met Gala, there was no mistaking who the silhouette belonged to. A body with such a defined and smooth shape had to be enhanced by some shape wear. It is, of course, expected that she’d wear one to promote her own Skims line (initially called Kimono!), however successful it already is. The Balenciaga second skin needed the Skims for sure. So why let Balenciaga have all the publicity? Now, that to me is a symbiotic relationship. And what better place to show it than on YouTube-bound television, on Saturday night?

Photo: NBC/YouTube

Kim K As FLOTUS

Is it imaginable? Will her IG posts come back to haunt her? Or her clothes—old or lack of?

 

 

Pic KK Jul 20

Never say never: We’ve learnt that from the current Man of the White House. As they always say, in America, dreams—or nightmares—do come true. Following Kanye West’s second announcement, two days ago, that he will be running for the US presidency, we are not pondering that probability, but what Kim Kardianshian would wear to the inauguration. Matthew Williams’s Givenchy? The possibility of Kim K as First Lady of the United States is unsurprisingly exciting her fans. Four years ago no one would entertain the idea of Melania Trump overseeing the White House Christmas decorations, but she did. Come next year, perhaps Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir will sing on the White House lawn?

Ms Kardashian has, so far, appeared to support her ambitious husband, now contracted to save Gap. On Twitter recently, she shared an American flag emoji alongside her husband’s not-shocking post, declaring his intention to try for all-of-America’s top job. Can we imagine an American president’s wife, who has a predilection for posting nude pictures of herself or, if you are lucky, with a strategically placed lei, convert to the primness required when residing in that habitat on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Some people are saying that Ms Kardashian would be the most fashionable First Lady yet. Imagine her in Balmain at the Wests’ first state dinner. Or Skims for the White Easter Egg Roll!

For certain, she would be bolder and more adventurous than Michelle Obama, already bolder and more adventurous than her predecessors. Ms Kardashian’s style spans 21st century fashion’s wide-ranging looks—from Rick Owen’s demented-goddess dresses to Dior’s parent-teacher-conference-ready pantsuits to her husband’s Yeezy supermarket-run separates, all ready to “rock” or “stun”, as the press loves to describe the sartorial effect she has on them. She will bring to the White House what Carmel Snow called “a dash of daring”. Glamour is to be expected—Melania Trump tries and she still looks like she does—but daring, not quite yet.

It’d be interesting to see if Ms Kardashian would be allowed to keep her Instagram account, or to let open those look-at-me-I-don’t-care-if-I-am-naked pictures. Perhaps, but then no one would bother. As we like to say among ourselves, who has not already seen Kim Kardashian’s buttocks? It’d be more interesting if we don’t get to. Mrs Trump did one shoot in the buff for a respectable magazine, GQ (it is not known if she did others), and she was disgraced for it. Ms Kardashian spent a good part of her adult life with little clothes or clothes that suggest little. If she ever gets to the White House, it could be a shame if she wore even just a tad too much.

Illustration: Just So

Nylon In Neutrals And Nudes

So now we need masks to match our underwear? Kim Kardashian seems to think so

 

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By Mao Shan Wang

I know masks are a must now. Although slowly available at retail again, surgical masks, despite being better than cloth ones, are not appealing enough that people are making their own, including those who fashion face coverings with brassieres. Of course, these days we are not averse to underwear not worn under. Still, it feels a little weird—even creepy—to want a bra cup to hug half the face. This may account for the persistence of Internet memes and jokes that josh at those who are partial to bra-masks.

Despite the joke potential of the source material for the Triumph-turn-face-covering, Kim Kardashian has introduced undie-looking masks for her shapewear brand Skims (formerly Kimono). I can understand the desire for a mask that matches a dress, but one that goes with undergarments or shapewear, that escapes me. It is not certain that these nondescript US-made masks are designed to go with the brand’s underwear, but the colours—five of them—are clearly chosen to pair with  merchandise in corresponding shades sold by Skims.

 

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But the aesthetics of the Skims masks isn’t the thing that’s got people talking about and reacting to the product. Rather, it is, like much of today’s culture, to do with colour. According to Netizens—an emotionally fragile bunch, Kim K and her brand are guilty of “casual racism” (as opposed to formal?). A black model wears a mask in a colour that’s a tad too light for her skin, while the ones on the  others are apparently closer to their own skin tone. And online, people are not pleased. On the Skims website now, a different model is used, presumably a reaction to social media dismay.

Despite the negative reactions, these masks are sold out, within an hour of their launch a week ago (you can join a waitlist if you must own one). Obviously, the marketing images are not offensive enough, nor the colour-skin mismatch. These masks are stated as “non-medical”, which likely makes them a fashion item. On the website, they are categorised under ‘accessories’, symbolised by an illustration of a naked torso made slightly more modest by two pasties, and sold alongside waist trainers and body tapes.

It appears to me that Skims is exploiting what is believed to be a social necessity of the present and the near future. And to make them in the colour of (and to look like) underwear appear to trivialise the seriousness of a disease that has pervasively damaged lives. Unsurprisingly, people are scrambling for the masks of no protective nor creative value. For now, celebrity-linked anything continues to have the same attraction as schlock horror.

Photos: Skims

Her Best Yet?

Kim K’s latest Vogue Arabia cover could be the fashion cover of the year—and of all 2019 Vogues

 

Vogue Arabia Sep 2019

We are not fans of Kim Kadashian as a model. Not as a reality star, nor a fashion icon. We are moderately amused by her as a shape wear designer and slightly more fascinated by her as prolific IG influencer. As a model, she’s mostly stiff, one-dimensional, and communicates little sartorially since what she usually puts on can hardly be called wear or, if she does, is something so skin-hugging that our imagination is never taxed.

Yet, she’s not only a model, she is, according to editors (and quite a few of them), cover material. From her feeble first—Complex (February, 2007)—to the borderline bridal bashful—US Vogue (April, 2014)—to the one that “broke the Internet” and consequently became a “cultural phenomenon”—Paper (Winter, 2014), Ms Kardashian is unfazed by the equally positive and negative effects she has on people who buy and read magazines. It is rather curious that despite her status as a social-media star, Ms Kardashian is rather besotted with old media and ever-ready to pose for print.

And now, a title associated with a hyper-conservative society that only very recently allowed women to drive and to travel abroad without consent from a male “guardian”. That Ms Kardashian is given the go-ahead to bare shoulders, arms, and cleavage is perhaps indication of creative output on her terms, rather than expression to test societal limits. Perhaps, to her, this is one way to encourage and empower the women of Saudi Arabia. Or, a chance to sell her “solutionwear”, now called Skims after the first disastrous naming exercise.

It is not unreasonable to assume that the cover girl wore Skims beneath the exaggeratedly shaped and fitted dress (with hips that could have been the result of a modest pannier), which is a vintage ensemble by the former designer Thierry Mugler, whose unnaturally enhanced silhouette was his trademark, an ’80s success story, and now the obsession of pop stars, such as Beyonce, who must wear his designs even when he no longer makes clothes, at least not commercially.

Shot by Spanish photographer Txema Yeste, this is, to us, Kim Kardashian’s strongest, fashion-savvy cover and the September issue cover to beat, but we are not inclined to give the credit entirely to her. The cover blurb also cites the contribution of Mr Mugler as art director (and Kanye West as interviewer of subject, but the husband is not the focus of this post). While the Frenchman’s eponymous line was still under his watch, Mr Mugler was known to have personally conceived the images that defined his sense of ultra-femininity, as well as the concepts of his wildly entertaining fashion shows in the ’80s.

Now a cabaret impresario, Mr Mugler continues to have full control of the images he creates, his own and those of the people he works with, as well as the projects that are under his conception and direction. His clothes might have appeared to be maximal (Harley Davidson corset!!! Millennials may remember Beyonce in it, but back in the ’90s, in that supermodel music video, George Michael’s Too Funky, model Emma Wiklund wore it alongside others in more clothes designed by Mr Mugler, who also directed the film), but the visuals have always veered towards minimal—even futuristic—to better underscore his designs’ sculptural, almost architectural quality.

Ms Kardashian’s covers have always leaned on the side of the commercial. Her rise from reality television is ascent from a commercial medium. Her later and current proclivities for nudity teeter on the pornographic, and nothing is more commercial than porn. The Vogue Arabia—not even two years old— cover is, conversely, a treatise on fashion as artistic expression that can be spared sexual overtones. The well thought-out composition of bi-coloured dress against a not-overwhelming desert that is roofed by a sheltering blue sky, as well as the red patina across the model’s face and left arm is evocative of Mark Rothko’s colour blocking, even if not at all painterly.

For Kim Kardashian, this is possibly the closest to art.

Photo: Vogue Arabia

This Is Kim And She’s Wearing Kimono

And it is clearly not a Japanese dress. Do names still mean anything?

 

Kim Kardashian enjoys many descriptions, but imaginative isn’t one of them. Case in point: her debut underwear line, just announced, is called Kimono. And many people are not charmed. It’s obvious the name is a play on her own moniker, but it also happens to be the traditional clothing of Japan. We can’t say for sure if there is cultural appropriation here, since there is no material component, but many people seem to consider it so—enough that #KimOhNo quickly emerged, within hours of her Instagram and Twitter announcements. However we see it, it is ignorant of the lawyer-in-training to think that Anglicised words no longer have provenance, meaning, or cultural connection.

To be fair, Mrs West (her Mr, too) has a penchant for unusual, un-name-like names, such as those for her kids (the latest, Psalm! Is that religious or musical appropriation?). A mother, we suppose, can name her children anything she wants. But a line of underclothes? That’s quite another matter, especially when lingerie, even post-Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, is still linked to something not quite as mundane as bras and panties, never mind if they are sold as “shapewear” and known to her as “solutions”. To call them by a name that is a national dress not related to the namer is understandably insensitive. It’s like a Korean wig-maker calling a new range of blond bobs Cornrows. Who’s buying—you, Kim K?

Photo: Vanessa Beecroft

Update (1 July 2019): Bowing to public outcry, Kim K has announced that she will not used the trademarked name Kimono for her shape wear brand. Watch this space for the next name that she will come up with