Love them or hate them, Kim Kardashian’s sartorial choices are nothing if not polarizing, from the oversized hoop earrings and bedazzled cocktail dresses of the late aughts to the head-to-toe lycra Yeezy ensembles. Arguably no Kardashian look, though, has generated more buzz than the custom Thierry Mugler dress she wore to the annual Met Gala in May.
The look was designed so Kardashian would appear as though she had emerged, dripping wet, from the ocean and walked straight to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in Lucite heels without drying off. In a shade of nude-pink reminiscent of the inside of a seashell and adorned with iridescent beads, the latex dress clung to her hourglass figure. The reality star’s quasi-natural curves were exaggerated beyond belief with a corset, creating the illusion that her red-carpet prep involved surgically removing a rib or two.
Kardashian’s glam squad kept the makeup simple with a taupe smoky eye and her hair clung to the sides of her face in shiny black ringlets. The theme of the night was camp, and Kardashian and Mugler hit the nail on the head. As revealed in Sunday night’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, however, the cinched, mid-length dress almost didn’t make it to the Met steps when Kanye West, Kim’s husband, refused to give his approval.
The head-turning outfit was the result of eight months of laborious planning, a gravity-defying corset, and a bit of light, self-inflicted torture, as Kardashian could neither pee nor breathe deeply once zipped into the dress. Much of last night’s episode documents her commitment to the dramatic fashion moment, offering viewers a glimpse into such thought processes as whether she should wear an adult diaper or, in the case of an emergency, simply pee her pants and enlist one of her (unlucky) sisters to “wipe my leg up.” Sitting down at any point in the night was out of question, and she had to practice taking tiny steps up the stairs without losing her balance.
Yet, in spite of all the effort his wife and her team put into preparing for the event, which is essentially the Oscars of the fashion world, West tried to convince her to change her look. Oh, and he decided to broach the subject the night before the Gala.
“Like, the corset, the underwear, all that vibe,” he begins in the clip, launching into a monologue. “I just feel like I went through this transition from being a rapper, like, looking at all these girls and looking at my wife like, ‘Oh, my girl needs to be just like the other girls showing her body off, showing this, showing that.’” Kardashian, curled up in a monogrammed hotel bathrobe, wordlessly continues tapping away at her iPhone, perhaps pretending not to hear her husband’s complaints in the hopes that he’ll just stop talking.
Instead, he doubles down, segueing to his newfound spirituality. “I didn’t realize it was affecting, like, my soul and my spirit,” West adds, asking rhetorically, “A corset’s like a form of underwear, it’s hot. It’s hot for who though?” At this point, Kardashian’s loyal squad of assistants, stylists, and Jonathan Cheban begin exchanging eye rolls as their rightfully pissed-off leader tries to explain to Kanye that he is giving her anxiety. In a show of unabashed selfishness at best and caveman misogyny at worst, West replies, “You are my wife and it affects me when pictures are too sexy.”
While this conversation would raise red flags under any circumstances, it is especially infuriating when you consider how vocal Kimye has been in the past about the way the controversial rapper controls his wife’s image. Up until his apparent change of heart earlier this year, he would routinely dress her in skin-tight spandex outfits from his Yeezy collections, calling her his muse, but treating her like his own personal Barbie doll.
It is disheartening to hear Kardashian talk about West’s controlling and obsessive behavior when it comes to her style. She often frames it as something she is grateful for, a favor he did for her. In a 2015 interview on Live with Kelly and Michael, she said, “I always thought I had really good style, until I met my husband and he told me that I had the worst style. He was really nice about it and cleaned out my whole closet.” Because nothing says nice like reducing your new girlfriend to tears by telling her all of her shoes are ugly and making her throw them in the garbage.
Beyond bullying Kardashian into changing her wardrobe, West specifically encouraged her, through his words and through the clothes he gave her, to embrace a sexy, bombshell persona. Take, for example, this quote from a 2013 Harper’s Bazaar profile in which the “Life of Pablo” singer gushes about Kardashian’s propensity for ’gramming naked selfies.
“I love her nude selfies. Like, I love the ones from the side, the back ones, and the front,” he told Bazaar. “I just love seeing her naked; I love nudity.” In the same interview, he hilariously remarked, “I think it’s important for Kim to have her figure. To not show it would be like Adele not singing.” He objectified her through song lyrics and even had her straddle a motorcycle, completely naked, in the 2013 “Bound 2” music video, while he appeared to be fully clothed in a tie-dyed t-shirt.
It is, then, particularly hypocritical for the rapper to take issue with the couture dress Kardashian chose to wear back in May and it is likely tied to his recent spiritual awakening (or money-making scheme). Since January, West has basically been reinventing himself as a pseudo-religious leader, headlining church-inspired Sunday Service gospel concerts. He has attracted a congregation of other A-listers, including Brad Pitt, Chance the Rapper, and Justin and Hailey Bieber, while also opening up his “services” to the public in New York and Wyoming.
Though those close to West are reluctant to describe what he is doing as preaching, the weekly events are rooted in Christianity. With an upcoming album titled Jesus is King, an accompanying IMAX film, and pending trademarks for a variety of pricey “church clothes,” West’s coming-to-God moment doubles as a lucrative business venture.
Kardashian, thankfully, refused to be moved by the classic “your sexy pictures hurt my soul” line. “You built me up to be like this sexy person and [have] confidence and all this stuff,” she told West, calling him out on his hypocrisy. “Just because you’re on a journey and you’re on your transformation doesn’t mean that I’m in the same spot with you.”
While this may not mean a return to the chunky wedge sandals and Herve Leger bandage dresses of her pre-Kanye years, it is undoubtedly satisfying to see Kim stand up for herself.