The creative output of Kanye West ranks among the most talked about subjects in pop culture over the last decade and a half. From music to sneakers, West’s work has seen critical and commercial success with interviewers wondering just how he does so much or maybe even more so who does what and what’s his role in making it all happen.
An open and curious collaborator, West has been known to build in bulk ala Michael Jackson, cutting down each album or in some cases collection to the point of perfection. Just as Dangerous scrapped an LL Cool J feature, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy trimmed muscle for the sake of a lean, compact classic. It would appear his approach to clothing is the same.
So, in an analogy, for every “All of the Lights” there’s a “Momma’s Boyfriend,” and for every Yeezy Season there’s a Pastelle. The clothing line that never was and the clothing line that currently is mirror that of the two suggested songs: one a smash hit posse cut pulling from all the biggest names in music past and present, the other an emotional tribute unarchiving the references of Billy Joel and Mobb Deep with the help of DJ Premier, Q-Tip and Soulja Boy but never released for consumption.
A new piece by Karizza Sanchez of Complex details the mysterious, coveted and unlaunched collection from Kanye known as Pastelle – or Past Tell Museum – brought back into conversations years ago with rumors of an Ian Connor bring back but still shelved serving as fashion’s Detox.
In the piece, Kanye’s Dream Team of collaborators and consultants ranging from Kim Jones to KAWS are profiled in regards to their work in the Pastelle pyramid with the likes of Taz Arnold and Ben Baller offering insight on what happened in the production process and why the line ultimately never happened.
Perhaps most interesting to sneakerheads is how the structure of Pastelle – or in some cases lack thereof – laid the blueprint for YEEZY Season as we know it. Of other curiosity is how many of the samples produced for Pastelle now prove ahead of their time and ahead of market, adding weight to Kanye’s claim of presenting the leather jogger to FENDI years before En Noir made it happen or drawing full-length Air Nike shoes as a kid in the ’80s.
Will Pastelle ever happen? Was Kanye on the cusp of merging streetwear, sportswear and vintage 10 years before modern times and five years before he truly hit his retail stride? The answer to the first question remains unknown, but every answer to the latter lives in this piece here.