Last night at the Accessories Council's annual ACE awards, Kanye West accepted the prize for — what else? — style-maker of the year. It has been quite a fashion journey for West over the past 365 days: He reinvented his personal style so that his clothes would complement rather than compete with him in a movement he dubbed "Rosewood"; as part of this seminal moment in fashion history, he shamelessly wore women's clothing, if that's what looked best on him. He's also designed a sneaker range for Louis Vuitton, sort of interned at the Gap, and has been toying with the idea of his own line — an exercise in perfection, to be sure — in the works for some time. Yet, he told the crowd in his acceptance speech last night, he is struggling with his position in the industry.
"Why, if someone is good in one field, can they not be accepted or given the slightest opportunity to express and be creative in other fields?" West asked the audience of designers, editors, and other fashion people. "I thank Marc Jacobs so much for giving me the opportunity to design a shoe for Louis Vuitton, but the thing that broke my heart most was when they said, 'You're finished. The shoe's finished.' When it was ready it was like the dream of putting together the fabric and having the energy that I knew of being a street kid, of being a boy out of Chicago, and enjoying every day and the way I can connect with this. It's like, you can't play the video game anymore."
His questions continued: "What compromises do we have to make? How many compromises do we have to make every day in this field just to keep things going? Just to be able to sell a product?" The pain of that onetime LV line still clearly resonated: "Fashion breaks my heart. You know, when they do a magazine of number one New Yorkers or something like that and I'm blatantly left out I feel like ... it hurts me. And I just appreciate the people in this room that are open minded enough to remember when they were a five-year-old. To remember when they could color outside the lines, to remember when they could give their opinion, honesty without affecting their job, without it affecting their well being."
One man who has, perhaps in Kanye's opinion, made compromises for his fashion company is Gap designer Patrick Robinson, who recently put logo-gate behind him. "I mean we heard the little bit of a rumble that that was too far too quick but we're going to continuously challenge people to look at the brand in different ways," Robinson told us, explaining that he did not have the final say in the logo; Gap's CEO and president do. "But I'm glad we did pull it back and I'm happy with the decision that we made but we're going to continuously challenge people with this brand," he explained. "Like, if you look at other brands in the world over a 40-year period, we're 41 this year, and other iconic brands, they've adapted their logo as they go forward. This has been a wonderful logo that we've had, and I agree, I love the blue box, and maybe we have to work more within that, but you'll see us be a little bit more thoughtful when we come back out with something."
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