Despite her obvious influence, there's still plenty of debate about whether Kim Kardashian should be taken seriously within the fashion industry. She's won over designers like Peter Dundas, who dressed her for the Met Gala in his debut gown for Roberto Cavalli; Riccardo Tisci, who made her a custom Givenchy Couture gown for her wedding to Kanye West; and Olivier Rousteing, who cast her (and West) in Balmain's spring 2015 menswear campaign.
Then there's the high-powered editors who have taken a liking to her — including the notoriously snooty Anna Wintour, who featured Kardashian and West on the cover of Vogue's April 2014 issue — though it's unclear whether these relationships have come about because she's a consummate professional, or because she can sell magazines. (Or, in Paper magazine's case, quite literally break the Internet.)
Many editorials she's done over the past couple of years have faced some sort of backlash via Internet comments and media outlets, like when went full-frontal in a conceptual spread in Love, shot by Steven Klein in collaboration with Miuccia Prada. There was also the time she wore a grill and bared her (very) pregnant belly in a sexy cover story for CR Fashion Book. She was caught in a steamy, black-and-white makeout session with her husband for the cover of L'Officiel Hommes; she channeled blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe in a cleavage-y Vogue Brazil story by Ellen von Unwerth and her most famous "asset" has been on full display in the pages of GQ UK, Paper and W. Recently, Juergen Teller captured Kardashian and West in a suggestive supplement for System magazine, in which the reality star poses around the Château d’Ambleville in lingerie — styled, unsurprisingly, by West himself. And finally, she posed for the July 16 issue of Rolling Stone, shot by Terry Richardson, wearing what could quite possibly be the world's most effective push-up bra.
While these shoots have very little in common thematically, there are certainly common threads: Kardashian seems to be playing larger-than-life characters, a version of herself that's somehow more exaggerated than what we see on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." There's heavy makeup, layers and layers of false eyelashes, fresh-off-the-runway designer clothing, post-production retouching and some of the most creative minds in the business directing every shot. Very rarely can fans catch a glimpse of the "real Kim," even on her off-duty days. She's tracked so closely by paparazzi in her daily life that she wears head-to-toe looks by top-tier fashion houses just to drop her child off at ballet class — and wears latex when she's pregnant.
So, on Tuesday afternoon, when the star began to share images from her Aug. 2015 Vogue Spain cover shoot with her 39.9 million Instagram followers, we were stopped in our tracks. In the editorial by Theo Wenner, Kardashian is very minimally made up (her Instagram claims there was "no" makeup, but one can never be sure that's true) and styled by Stevie Dance in, well, normal clothes: vintage Levi's, sweatshirts, New Balance sneakers, full-coverage cotton underwear, pajamas and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt that, for the record, is not by Marc Jacobs. In fact, aside from her huge engagement ring, none of the fashion credits are from a luxury label.
Kardashian has gone in this direction before, namely for her Feb. 2015 cover for Vogue Australia, shot by Gilles Bensimon. While the beauty look was understated, the color palette muted and the wardrobe soft and elegant, it was still chock-full of designer labels, like Chloé, Haider Ackermann, Ellery and Balmain. It was also styled by Christine Centenera who, lest you forget, was one of West's first supporters in the fashion industry and consulted on his debut collections for Paris Fashion Week.
However, the Vogue Spain cover story — shot around the Beverly Hills Hotel — seems to be the first time that we see Kardashian in her true, non-staged glory. On Instagram she wrote, "Theo Wenner gave me no direction and wanted to capture me being me," as well as, "I just landed back from Armenia, pregnant & jetlagged [sic] so literally was trying to nap as they were shooting." Call me naive, but I buy it. And I think she looks beautiful.
We work in an industry full of extreme wealth and big personalities — as well as one that seems to place value on a having a life, a wardrobe and a career that's enviably Instagram-worthy. To see Kim Kardashian — one of the most powerful women in both pop culture and fashion — strip away all of the excess and allow a big-name magazine to capture a few moments of her acting like a normal human, is not only refreshing, but it's almost completely unheard of. Bravo, Vogue Spain, for publishing Mrs. Kardashian West's best editorial to date.