According to Kanye, “Kim is like a fantasy, period. She’s like a dream girl. And I think a dream girl should live in a dream world.” April’s Vogue cover certainly fits in to that idea. The women that have traditionally graced the cover of Vogue are there because they are our society’s dream girls. Beyonce, Lena Dunham, Michelle Obama, Kate Upton, and Rihanna have all recently been Vogue cover girls and are all living lives that most people only dream of living. The controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian joining the ranks of these illustrious fashionistas has been fierce and has driven up sales to the point where at nearly 400,000 magazines sold so far, this issue is looking like it is going to be a bestseller. But the real question is… what does Vogue actually think about Kim Kardashian?
The article is funny. Hamish Bowles is always an entertaining writer and his prose tends to air on the Oscar Wilde side. But even without his wry tone there is enough of Kim, Kris Jenner, and Kanye to give the reader a distinctly strange and off-putting impression of the Kimye phenomenon. Quotes like, “I take pictures of her [referring to North, her baby] all the time and dress her up,” says Kim. “I put Kanye’s big chains around her, and I put a little Louis bag and some Jordans, and I was like, ‘What up, Daddy?'” seem like they are initially meant to make the audience awwww- but really the image is a little weird. Almost like Kim has been waiting all her life to have a doll to dress up and now she’s found one.
From London to Paris to Los Angeles, Hamish Bowles joins Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in their quest for world domination—and the perfect wedding dress.
Add that to Kanye’s quote about possibly renting out the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles for their wedding, and Kimye dominating the world looks… well a lot like the past. Like Louis XIV himself should be placing the ring on Kim’s finger. And speaking of mirrors, Bowles throws in a great hint of passive bias when describing baby North’s nursery, saying “Tord Boontje’s iconic Swarovski pink blossom chandelier twinkles above a Lucite crib and pale-colored shag-pile carpeting, all reflected in a narcissism-nurturing mirrored wall.” The whole article practically drips with comments like that.
Anna Wintour has defended her choice to place Kim and Kanye on the cover of this issue, saying, “Part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it.” Personally, I think she is doing much more than that in this feature.
Subtly, but not so subtly, Bowles’ prose, the quotes that were chosen, the pictures that Leibovitz took, and even the way the cover is presented all seem to pull together into a total critique of the Kimye phenomenon. It is unlikely anyone is going to walk away from this article or the photographs that accompany it thinking “I want to be just like them” or “Those people seem so cool and interesting.” It is more likely that you will feel like you want to take a spiritual retreat away from a world where Kimyes exist. Much like in Leibovitz’s shot of North’s nursery, sometimes all it takes is someone holding up a mirror to see what’s actually there. Wintour has served us up a Kimye at the height of their powers and like the fabled emperor’s new clothes… I think we can see them for who they really are.