We promised you the full interview.
DON VS CAPO
Everybody knows Kanye used to call himself the Louis Vuitton Don. In 2006, he walked on stage at the Def Poetry Jam carrying an LV bag -which wasn’t even available until then- against a backdrop of stacked LV trunks. Not long after that, he hires LV-designer/artist/muse Takashi Murakami as art director for his ‘Graduation’ album. Yeezy might as well have been wearing a T-shirt that said: “Where are you Jacobs?”
It took a while, but the heads at Louis Vuitton got the message. In January 2009, Kanye and head-LV-designer Marc Jacobs pose together at the Paris fashion week as the “Kanye West footwear for Louis Vuitton” hype builds. The shoes, in stores June 2009, are a design collaboration between Kanye and a Louis Vuitton capo: Fabrizio Viti.
Viti has been with Vuitton (and Marc Jacobs) since 2004. He started his illustrious career at Patrick Cox, flipped to Prada and contributed to the Gucci heydays alongside Tom Ford. Two minutes into our talk, it’s clear that Fabrizio wasn’t all that comfortable with the collaboration back when Kanye had the first talks with LV in 2007. What’s a sensitive Italian who never ever listens to hip hop -he prefers his Barbra Streisand records- going to do with an American rap singer, chain blinger, holla at the next chick soon as you blinkin’? Hey, and even worse. That Kanye’s a blogger. And he communicates in caps. IN CAPS, HOMIE!!!
Fabrizio Viti:(laughs) It’s true: I was kind of prepared for the worst. You know, when the Louis Vuitton collaboration with Sofia Coppola came up, it was easy for me to imagine what that would be like. I was familiar with her movies and her sense of aesthetics. That being said: it became clear very soon that working with Kanye would be amazing and I’m very proud of our collection. Kanye didn’t put in as much time has he could, which would have been acceptable -I mean, he’s an extremely busy man. No, he put in as much time as was necessary. He’s a perfectionist.
KNOTORYUS: Was it an easy process to go through?
Fabrizio Viti: Well, because Kanye wanted to be involved every step of the way, it was necessary for us to really get to know each other. I just mentioned Kanye is a perfectionist, someone who wants to know about every single detail. He absorbs everything. Fantastic, non? He insisted to wait until the recording of his album (808s & Heartbreak –ed.) was almost finished so he could completely focus on this project.
KNOTORYUS : I think Kanye’s drive is often confused with arrogance because…
Fabrizio Viti: (interrupting)
Full interview after the jump...Exactly! I want to formally state that Kanye West is not a hard man to work with. I loved working with him. He’s probably taught me more than I’ve taught him.
KNOTORYUS :How did you guys work together?
Fabrizio Viti: In the beginning it wasn’t easy because we both had to go back and forth between L.A. and Paris. I couldn’t just start sketching, get those to the factory, hop on a plane, show Kanye some samples and hello: collection! That’s not what happened... (laughs) Uhm… actually, it never goes like that, but you know what I mean.
(long pause) Actually, now that I think about it, working with Marc Jacobs and working with Kanye West is very similar. They both got the same drive and work ethic.”
KNOTORYUS: You’ve designed 11 different models. Kanye told everybody he was feeling inspired. What were some of the choices you had to make?
Fabrizio Viti: Kanye is a true style icon, so we had to come up with sneakers he would want to wear himself. Anytime, anywhere. The perfect shoe. Kanye wanted to design a shoe that goes with everything. You’re sitting front row nex to Anna Wintour, you’re out in the city, you’re on stage… It had to be a divine shoe you could wear with jeans as well as with a three-piece suit.
KNOTORYUS: For a while there was talk about a women’s collection...
Fabrizio Viti : Yes. We had to consider the possibility. We made some samples.
KNOTORYUS: Which Kanye was happy to post on his blog adding the title :
“I COULDN'T DO A COLLECTION WITHOUT INCLUDING THE LADIES...”
Fabrizio Viti :(cracks up) I know, right? Anyway, Kanye wasn’t happy with them. Nor was I. So we decided to just stick to a men’s collection and make that one as fabulous as possible. But, yeah, after doing that, we do have an idea about how we may approach that in the future.
KNOTORYUS: One of the many things I like about Kanye is that he isn’t afraid of making grand gestures. He named the shoes after his own friends.
Fabrizio Vitt: We've got the the “Don C’s”: the low tops. They were named after Don C, Kanye’s right hand man and shadow. He was there every step of the way. The high tops are nicknamed “Jasper’s”, which is Ferrari Murakami’s real name. He’s one of Kanye’s best friends... Wonderful, don’t you think? And then there’s... (abruptly stops talking)
KNOTORYUS: (happily continuing) ... The boat shoe with the tassels called the “Mr. Hudson”. After the relatively unknown British artist Mr. Hudson, who just signed to Kanye’s label and who Kanye claims to be the next big superstar.
Fabrizio Viti: exactly.
KNOTORYUS: Have you ever seen Kanye West perform?
Fabrizio Viti : I’m ashamed to say this, but no. I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
KNOTORYUS: What’s your favourite Kanye West song?
Fabrizio Viti :(excitedly) Oh, I was visiting him in his L.A. apartment and I was probably one of the very first people to hear his album. When “Love Lockdown” came on… Oh, my god! (sings passionately and slightly off key) “Loooooooovve Lockdààààwn!” I said to him right away: “This is the first time I’ve really heard you sing, Kanye. This is a hit!” He made it his first single and the rest, as they say, is history... (laughs)
This interview was originally published in DSM, the weekly magazine accompanying De Standaard.