For the first time ever, Grammy award-winner Kanye West interviews his wife, fashion mogul Kim Kardashian West. Can we still keep up with this Kardashian?
Kim Kardashian West. Pop culture phenomenon, daughter, mother, sister, entrepreneur, change agent, law student, and wife to Kanye West. The couple married in Italy in 2014, with a blooming flower wall and Florentine rooftops as the backdrop. Having met years earlier, the union would serve, among other things, as the beginning of a coming-of-age for Kim Kardashian West. The reality TV star, whose followers across social media number more than 200 million, has founded a family with four young children – North, Saint, Chicago, and Psalm. Since marrying West, she’s masterminded a beauty range, KKW, which made more than US $100 million in sales last year alone, as well as a fragrance line, now-defunct mobile app, and Kimoji emoji line, which crashed the Apple App Store on launch. Her next move, though, would come as a surprise. The daughter of the late attorney Robert Kardashian is now reading law, aiming to pass the state bar exam by 2022, with a commitment to driving prison reform in the US. Her Grammy-winning husband, meanwhile, has achieved his much-desired fashion triumph by being the highest-paid footwear designer in history, through his company Yeezy. In a candid interview, Kardashian West opens up to her husband about everything we’ve always wanted to know: misconceptions, celebrity, family, work, and style.
Kanye West: What do you believe to be the biggest misconception people have about you?
Kim Kardashian West: I think I’ve evolved and have arrived at a place where I don’t really care about misconceptions. I’m so used to always being underestimated… Being underestimated and over-delivering is my vibe. I like to over-deliver and be underestimated.
KW: I don’t think people underestimate you now.
KW: What’s an example of that? They don’t do that anymore…
KKW: I don’t know. I feel like it’s just my life, you know?
KW: Maybe you underestimate how other people see you. I think other people are expecting someone else.
KKW: But misconception… For example, my mind is so focused right now on law school. There is a misconception that I don’t actually have to study and I that I’ve bought my way into getting a law degree – that’s absolutely not true. I have to put in just as much work as everybody else, the same number of hours that are required by law, and I have to write essays, take tests, and actually pass them. There are no short cuts; there is no easy way out.
KW: If you could choose not to be a celebrity and have a more peaceful but happy life out of the spotlight, would you do it?
KKW: I think I live an awesome life. Even in my darkest of times I don’t regret putting myself out there for the world to see. People have shared with me over the years how much it has helped them to feel less alone when dealing with their own adversity. I love having a voice and I appreciate the platform that I have been given, even though I do wish I could have more privacy at times.
KW: Some people say that fame is addictive. What are your views on that?
KKW: I do agree that fame can be addictive and it took me a long time to recognize how lost you can become when you put too much focus on it. People often ask me, “Money or fame?” My focus has always been on success, and with success comes money. I’m at this place now where I am not concerned anymore about fame but if you would have asked me this question 10 years ago, I probably would have said that fame and money were of equal importance. My focus has shifted a lot.
KW: From fame to money?
KKW: Money was always the goal but I was obsessed with fame, like, embarrassingly obsessed. I have the funniest stories from 15, 20 years ago that I have no shame in sharing because I was younger and it was who I was at the time.
KW: And now you’re obsessed with money?
KKW: No, no. My goals were so much lower than what I have been able to achieve. Now that I have beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of beyond my wildest imagination, I can say without question that the fame isn’t important to me. But I do recognize and appreciate that fame has given me the biggest platform.
KW: We are constantly in the news, and sometimes we end up reading unpleasant things about ourselves. Does it affect you?
KKW: When it’s about my family, I get really protective. Most of the time when things are so baseless or absurd, I have a good laugh. But as far as dealing with it on a daily level for me, I’m pretty content. If it’s about you, or the kids, or my sisters, I can get worked up when I read things that are false or negative. But when it’s about me, I’ve learned how to block out the noise for the most part.
KW: What did you think of me the first time we met?
KKW: This was before you released your first album and you were known as a music producer. I was really shy. You thought I was Brandy’s assistant, which I wasn’t. Ever since you said that, it’s everywhere… like “Kim is Brandy’s assistant.” I was her friend and stylist. [laughs]. I thought you were attractive, nice, very charming, really funny, powerful – I was in awe of you, but I was really shy, quiet, and a little nervous, to be honest.
KW: How did you realize I was the one for you?
KKW: When I went to New York and we went to dinner and the movies, it was just so much fun. I remember I wore a Givenchy feather jacket and leather pants. It was super chill and so effortless being together. After spending that whole week together, I realized you were the one and then I was like, damn, why did I waste so much time and energy? Why didn’t I do this sooner?
KW: Was it always in your plans to have a big family?
KKW: I really wanted four kids and apparently your psychic told you that, too. [laughing in reference to Kanye West’s 2005 hit “Gold Digger”]. Growing up, I always thought I wanted four kids and then after we had North, I didn’t think we were going to have another one because of how difficult the pregnancy was. After we had Saint, I for sure thought we were done but then we kept going – and now we have four.
KW: What traits do you see in our children?
KKW: North is your twin, she is so creative, expressive, and has so much of your personality. Saint, I think, has more of my personality. What do you think?
KW: I would agree with that, I think so too.
KKW: Chi, it’s still too early to say. She has a temper that we don’t have but then she’s so calm, which is just like us too. For Psalm, it’s too early to tell. Hopefully they will have little bits of us and lots of themselves.
KW: How do you want our children to remember us?
KKW: I think about this all the time. I often reflect on the most amazing childhood I had and I want them to always be able to look back and say, “I had the most awesome life. My parents gave me all of the tools to be great and happy in life. They were fun, good, awesome parents and they were always there.”
KW: What are the things you had to give up in order to build your brand and raise a family?
KKW: This year I had to give up a lot – like my friends and going out. Unless we work together or have babies together that are same age or I’ve known you my whole life, it’s really hard to stay in touch and keep up. I’ve had to change my number. I need to stay focused – I have to figure out law school, I have to launch my shapewear brand and continue to oversee all aspects of my beauty and fragrances businesses. I’ve had to cut out all of the things that took time away or did not involve God, our family, my businesses, justice reform work, or law school.
KW: I’m always amazed at your capacity to create new business ventures and ideas. Where do you get your inspiration from?
KKW: From you. I have a lot of my own ideas, obviously, but you have had so much influence on how I see things and the decisions that I make. From you I’ve learned to not compromise and to only create businesses that are authentic to who I am.
KW: Why do we work so hard? What do you think drives us?
KKW: We have such big visions of what we want our life to be. But for me, it’s probably not as big of a vision as yours. I saw my parents work so hard growing up; my dad always respected hard work, which is such an Armenian trait. Their hard work influenced me from a very young age.
KW: Many young girls see you as a role model due to your talent for business and your sense of style. Do you feel any sort of pressure in pleasing such a demanding audience?
KKW: I don’t think it’s a demanding audience. I never felt the responsibility of being a role model until I had kids – and I don’t really like the word “role model.” I feel like it’s a bit self-centered in a way. I just try to be a good person and lead by example. There is a lot of pressure, especially when parents put that on kids that “people have to be perfect and not make mistakes because people are watching you.” That’s not a way to live. For me, I just try to be a good person and when I make mistakes, I try to own up to them, learn, and grow. I think that is what people should really strive for instead of trying to be perfect at all times.
KW: I know you love all your sisters, but which sister do you feel closest to and why?
KKW: It changes, just like friends or relationships go in and out. I think this year has been a really strong Kim and Khloé year. I’m obviously so close with Kendall and Kylie too but I’ve spent so much more time on this earth with Kourtney and Khloé – 16 and 17 years longer with them. We have more history, have been through so much together, and we have more friends in common. Kourtney and I will always be really close, but this year, Khloé and I really bonded.
KW: Your style has evolved a lot in the past years. Talk me through some of your best and worst moments.
KKW: I love my worst moments now. I look back and have to laugh; it was so much fun. It was who I was, what I could afford, and what I knew at the time. I think it was the first seven years of filming Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Then, when I met you, you gave me the biggest closet makeover. I didn’t understand at the time why you wanted to get rid of pretty much everything I owned, but I pretended like I did. You were showing me all of these different designers that I had never heard of before. Now, I totally get it. Now I’m very confident in what I wear. You have been my best stylist.
KW: You have become very experimental and artistic in terms of fashion. Where did this confidence come from and who are the people you have loved collaborating with through the years?
KKW: It’s so hard when you’re asking me this because you know you were one who brought out that confidence in me. You showed me a whole other way. I really wasn’t that artistic or anything before. Who are the people I love to collaborate with? I mean, you. There are so many that it’s hard to name only a few but some who come to mind include: Manfred Mugler, who has been an absolute dream to work with; Alexander Wang is the nicest; Riccardo Tisci is always so much fun; Carine Roitfeld, I love her so much, she has always been so supportive and amazing; Anna Wintour, for her kindness and the best advice; Azzadine Alaïa, who was incredible to collaborate with. I will always remember my shoot with Karl Lagerfeld that Carine styled – he wanted very specific sheets for a shot that we did so he sent someone to his own home so that we could use them. And Zac Posen, who was the first designer with a fashion house to believe in me when nobody did. He invited me to the CFDA Awards and I remember him saying to me, “Kim, I see this in you, can you please trust me?” He wanted me to wear minimal makeup. I was so uncomfortable and, of course, showed up with a full face. That night he introduced me to Karl Lagerfeld and I sat next to Rachel Roy. I remember being so nervous and intimidated because I knew no one. Rachel was so nice, she told me who was who and introduced me to so many people. There are so many more people I could name!
KW: What motivated you to start studying law? Did you choose law to feel closer to your father’s heritage?
KKW: No, I’ve always been interested in law, in studying law. As I started to become interested in criminal justice reform, I felt the urge to learn more so that I could do more. I knew that the only way I could help was if I was really educated on the laws and the system. But I know that my dad would love it, he would be so proud. He would totally be the one helping me study and would have taken the job of helping me with my flashcards away from you – he would have been so happy to do that.
KW: It’s a bit of a cliché but how do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
KKW: In my mind I’m already living in those 10 years. I see us living on a ranch in Wyoming, occasionally going to Palm Springs and our home in Los Angeles – and becoming a lawyer.
KW: Would you set up your practice in Wyoming and fly in and out to work on prison reform?
KKW: I would probably do it from there and fly into DC, NY, and LA.
KW: When you’re at home, are there any simple tasks you really enjoy doing yourself?
KKW: I love cleaning out our garage and our storage project that I’m working on right now – it gives me life to find treasures. I love organizing. I love lying in bed and watching Catfish and Hoarders. After I watch Hoarders, it makes me want to clean and organize even more.
KW: What role do you think faith in God has played in your life and in our home?
KKW: My father was a devout Christian, so growing up, we would go to church together as a family every week. He would talk to us about the importance of having faith in God and the power of prayer. Now that we have a family of our own, I love the conversations that we are having together and with our kids about how we can be more in service to God in everything that we do. Sunday service this year especially has been such a blessing. I’m so grateful that you brought that into our lives because it’s brought us even closer together as a family. It’s something that North especially looks forward to every week. She loves singing with the choir. We are truly blessed.
Originally published in the September 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia