TOUCH THE SKY

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s Balmain Campaign: High Fashion Meets Low Culture

After years of rejection within the fashion world, America’s most fame-hungry couple has finally been accepted into the elite club by Balmain. But the struggle has been real.

12.23.14 5:34 AM ET

Kim Kardashian has come a long way from wiping dog shit off the bottom of Paris Hilton's Louboutins.

The reality TV star turned Mrs. Kanye West has made a career out of everything from the lowbrow (that sex tape with Brandy’s little brother) to the raised brow (a whole book of selfies, available for 50 percent off at a Dash near you). Now that Kim and Kanye have konnected, they're demanding that the fashion world take them seriously—as seriously as you can take a couple that named their child North West. Their new Balmain campaign isn't just extremely off-putting and incredibly up-close; it's also a serious sartorial achievement. Of course, the #World'sMostTalkedAboutCouple has waged an uphill battle to woo the fashion world, and their trail to the top is littered with designer beefs, runway boos, and, most embarrassingly of all, a Sears collection. 

With tacky corporate sponsorships out the (infamous) ass, Kim Kardashian has always been living proof that money can't buy you class. Pre-Kanye, the reality show star had no qualms endorsing self-tanners, cheap perfumes, sketchy weight loss programs, and even Carl’s Jr. But once Kanye came along, Kim had to literally clean out her closet. Now Kardashian dons Lanvin and Givenchy, attends the Met gala (after allegedly being banned by Anna Wintour in 2012), and pals around with Marina Abramovic and Karlie Kloss. And who can forget that graffitied Birkin

Of course, Kardashian's tabloids-to-Vogue cover rags to riches tale is nothing compared to her husband's decade-long couture crusade. When West first burst on to the sartorial scene, he was rocking “Pink-ass polo’s with a fuckin’ backpack.” Now, he's sitting front and center at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week shows—and this is the man who "invented" the worldwide sartorial movement that is the leather kilt.

West's newfound in-crowd favor was famously hard-won. In 2011, the rapper-turned-self parody debuted his first collection, Dw Kanye West. The Daily Telegraph's Lisa Armstrong called the show a "stupendously vacuous enterprise." Apparently, Kanye stopped reading at "stupendous"—he's still designing, and has since released two capsule collections with A.P.C; naturally, the miniature lines took years to come to fruition. A.P.C. designer Jean Touitou explained that, "When you deal with a guy who wants to redesign just about anything so it could fit the kingdom of dopeness, it takes some time."

What designer West lacks in productivity, he more than makes up for in pure, unadulterated confidence and blind anger. Kanye refuses to stomach any rejection, no matter how upper crust. When Yves Carcelle, the president of Louis Vuitton, refused to meet with West, he proclaimed, "I was made for this moment…Everybody in New York City right now don't buy any Louis Vuitton until after January. Now do you want to meet with me? Now do you want to meet with me? Influence. They think that I don't realize my power."

But publicly throwing shade at Louis Vuitton wasn't Kanye's first fashion faux pas. He also broke off his partnership with Nike when the brand allegedly refused to give him royalties on his shoes because he isn't a professional athlete. West's response? "I'll go to the Garden and play one-on-no one. I'm a performance athlete."

West also had a choice sound bite for Saint Laurent designer Heidi Slimane; "Heidi Slimane was a god…but it takes a god to recognize another god. So when he told me, 'You can come to my show, but you can't come to see Phoebe, and you can't come to see Riccardo, that was odd. He tried to control me! He tried to tell me what to do!"

While West is clearly convinced that he's the hottest chick at the party, Kimye is still facing some good old-fashioned fashion hazing. Last September, the "designer" duo got booed at Lanvin's Paris fashion show after they arrived late to their front row seats.  Despite this diva behavior, Kim and Kanye still managed to score the new Balmain 2015 menswear campaign, cementing their #highfashion status. Sayonara, Sears!