The next morning at the Ritz hotel, over smoked salmon and eggs with coffee and grapefruit juice—and continuing in a chauffeured Maybach to Rick Owens’s showroom at the Palais de Tokyo, where we meet up with Kim Kardashian West and Owens’s wife, Michèle Lamy—West is a reflective combination of mellow and elated.
How are you feeling after your fashion show last night? Afterward, everyone was talking about North’s performance. Or about the coronavirus.
I’m just proud of my daughter. It felt—one conversation is about the end of the world. The next conversation is about the beginning. Really, that’s how it is out here! Two days ago, I sat there in the atelier [in Calabasas] as we all talked about the virus, and just thought: If we were to not be here anymore, all I can think is, What a wonderful life it is. You think about those movies where the world is ending and I just simply thank God for life. Thank God for all these experiences.
In Cody we talked a lot about getting out of cities. Into nature. A sustainable environment. Surrounded by family. You said to me, “How far are we from Paris Fashion Week right now?” Now that we’re here in Paris, and fear of the coronavirus is spreading, it makes even more sense—you would certainly be sealed off from the virus if you were living in a sustainable dome in Cody.
So why come back to the center of the cultural vortex, to Paris?
Well, it’s interesting to see Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens be present. Like, Rick Owens, existing with us. I’m 42 years old. When Rick started doing the spaces and the furniture, he was probably my age. It’s a few people—the space program wasn’t made by itself. It moves me to be able to see Rick Owens in a setting of the past, which is our now. It makes me think: Life is a song that’s already been written, that takes your entire life to hear.
I believe that.
Something I’ve really been on in the past few weeks is the way we use memories to express ourselves. We’re taught that the color white is white when we’re super young. So now if I point at this tablecloth and say “white,” you agree with me. You’re agreeing with something that we both have been programmed to understand in the past so we can communicate in the future.
How does that inform how you create? Are you looking to break some of the programmed ideas that we are all supposed to agree upon?
The greatest freedom is to challenge the vernacular. Or add something to the vernacular. I saw [Alyx designer and former DONDA member] Matt Williams in the hotel lobby at the Mercer a couple weeks ago. Right when I saw him, I started communicating in, like, beep sounds.
Can you give me an example?
You know the beginning of the Bobby Digital song? Like that.
Did he beep back?
Good question. [laughs] We hugged and started using memories to attempt to communicate the future.
Matt posted a photo of the two of you with Virgil [Abloh] in New York. What did y’all talk about?
I don’t remember barely any of what we were talking about. But I remember the way it felt.
For most fashion brands, the goal is to show a new fashion collection, then produce it and sell it. To make revenue and grow a business. But last night, when talking to the press, you said showing the clothes, producing the clothes—it’s all just a creative exercise for you.
Yeah, because who programs us to have certain goals? I like to wake up and exist in a place of ideation every morning. But the way our human nature works, we can increase our productivity when there are checkpoints. I love the video game OutRun 2. Arcade version. I love hitting all the curves and getting all the straightaways. But I also love hitting the goals. Having a fashion show is a step into the goal of the inevitable, which is Armani meets Aman: food, clothing, shelter, space. Showing at an Oscar Niemeyer building gives the apparel some context. But I don’t exist in context. I exist in KAN-text. [laughs] The thing about the spaces that you’ve seen—once those are in place, certain ideas will feel more appropriate as it all joins together.