“When you walked into the room, I had been dealing with a very heavy concept this week that I couldn’t get out of my head.”
– Kanye West
In a recent piece published by The Hollywood Reporter, Kanye West and his interior designer, the renowned Axel Vervoordt, have a very candid conversation about philosophy, design, time and of course, fashion.
It was close to a decade ago when West discovered Virgil DJ-ing at a club in chicago under the alias Flat White. It was here when Virgil Abloh was officially propelled into the mainstream after he was affiliated with Kanye serving as his “creative director” or “style advisor”. Abloh and West were seen attending fashion shows together, DJ-ing in clubs and even running a game of basketball – and the rest is history. In this interview, West admits his true feelings about Abloh’s appointment at Louis Vuitton and sets the record on his actual affiliation with him:
WEST: …”I had been dealing with a very heavy concept this week that I couldn’t get out of my head. Just the way you’re expressing yourself has lifted the burden on me.
VERVOORDT: Something bad happened?
WEST: It’s not bad or good, it’s my creative collaborator being the head of Louis Vuitton. (Laughs.)
VERVOORDT: Whoa, whoa.
WEST: Because [Abloh and I] have been fighting to make apparel at a certain price that still has the same credibility and desirability as something at a higher price. … But when they say he was my creative director, that’s incorrect. He was a creative collaborator.
Vervoordt, named to Architectural Digest’s inaugural AD100 Hall of Fame last year, is known for his neutral, earthy colour palette and talent for mixing genres and time periods. Not only is he the go-to designer for West and Kardashian, he also designs for The Police’s Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler.
Here is a breakdown of some highlights from their conversation:
On their first meeting:
WEST: “I walked past your booth [at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands, in 2013] and saw this coffee table. It was a very low, dark coffee table with round edges, and it looked like it was floating, like a spaceship. I remember walking in and feeling like the movie Batman. Some Bruce Wayne type. It had this very soulful, emotional feeling to the space. I came up to you and said, ‘Who is responsible for this?’”
AXEL VERVOORDT: “It was an immediate connection. I could feel that you were really in love with things. Even if people think we come out of two different worlds, the act of meeting makes one another stronger. You were so spontaneous, totally true and intense. Now we’re working on a house together, and I’ve learned from you because you have great taste.”
On being timeless:
WEST: “…There’s certain people that you meet and you say, “Oh, you’re from the future.” You feel this in their spirit, people who are just staying in a time where the time doesn’t celebrate who they are, and there’s other people right now who the time does celebrate, and those people end up more famous or notorious. But I’m big on connecting with timeless energy, with people and musicians that I’m around. When working on “Runaway” with [artist] Vanessa Beecroft, it was very important to not define the time, to not give any labels to the environments that we were in.”
On his new philosophy book that he’s writing:
WEST: “I’ve got this new concept that I’ve been diggin’ into. I’m writing a philosophy book right now called Break the Simulation. And I’ve got this philosophy — or let’s say it’s just a concept because sometimes philosophy sounds too heavy-handed. I’ve got a concept about photographs, and I’m on the fence about photographs — about human beings being obsessed with photographs — because it takes you out of the now and transports you into the past or transports you into the future. It can be used to document, but a lot of times it overtakes [people]. People dwell too much in the memories. People always wanna hear the history of something, which is important, but I think it there’s too much of an importance put on history.
On Fashion and Yeezy:
WEST: At Adidas, I have Yeezy, but it’s a namesake brand. It’s my nickname. We do these sneakers that sell out and we get, “Oh, this is the number one brand on Women’s Wear Daily.” And I don’t wish to be number one anymore, I wish to be water. I wish to be closer to UNICEF or something where I can take the information that I have and help as many people as possible, not to just shove it into a brand.
WEST: There are just a lot of words that I want to remove when you think about a company, like the word company. I like the word community better. I don’t like the word brand because we don’t use branding.
VERVOORDT: Yeah, exactly.
WEST: We inform. It’s a lot of things — a complete different ethos to what Yeezy is.
VERVOORDT: What I think about great fashion is that creative fashion, for me, the ideal creative fashion is the one who feels what people need at that moment. The world changes all the time.
*Featured image is Virgil Abloh, Kanye West and fellow designer friend Matthew Williams of ALYX Studio DJ-ing at London’s XOYO in 2015. It was here where Abloh decided to play Kanye West’s unreleased song “Fade” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Post Malone.