Reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians may be nearing the end of its almost-15-year run but that doesn’t mean that Kim Kardashian and her family, whose shenanigans have kept people entertained for years, are going to disappear from our Instagram feeds any time soon.
From beauty and fashion to pop culture and even prison reform, the influence of Kardashian and her cohort has been pervasive.
Often dismissed as a bunch of privileged girls leading glamorous lives in Los Angeles, Kardashian and her sisters, led by their tour de force of a mom(ager) Kris Jenner, have been responsible for the mainstream acceptance of curvy body types; the rise of make-up trends such as contouring; the viral spread of silly memes like “okurr”; and changing celebrity culture as we know it, among other things.
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They accomplished all this – and more – by taking a page from the book of one of Kardashian’s early mentors: Paris Hilton, the original influencer.
As Kardashian gets ready to celebrate her 40th birthday, we take a trip down memory lane and look at the reality-TV-star-turned-entrepreneur’s style evolution: from her early days as an animal-print-clad NBA wife to her rise to the front rows of Paris Fashion Week as the most influential celebrity of the last decade.
Would 2020 Kim, and more importantly her music- and fashion-mogul husband Kanye West, approve of this ivory bra top paired with a black sequin skirt that she wore at Hollywood Life magazine’s Style Awards in 2007? Probably not. But the hair and make-up are on point.
Days after her wedding to – and weeks before her divorce from – basketball player Kris Humphries, Kardashian, clad in an animal-print dress from her line, looks smitten next to a towering Humphries at a 2011 event for the Kardashian Kollection in Los Angeles.
At a Pre-Grammy Awards party in Los Angeles in 2012, Kardashian went full bling with a blue dress featuring a crystal-embellished bust from London-based designer Antonio Berardi. Cheaper versions of this “prom dress” are still available online after all these years.
Kardashian’s long-time love affair with French label Balmain, and its creative director Olivier Rousteing, started with an electric blue dress with a plunging neckline that she wore at the Angel Ball in New York in 2012. It was later revealed that the same night, Kardashian and West conceived their daughter, North.
For her first appearance at the exclusive Met Gala in New York in 2013, a heavily pregnant Kardashian wore a floral-print dress by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy that was panned on social media, igniting a series of memes. Kardashian later revealed that after leaving the party she cried over the reactions to her outfit.
Kardashian became officially fashion-approved when in 2014 she and West graced the cover of American Vogue, shot by star photographer Annie Leibovitz. She wore a bridal look designed by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, ahead of the couple’s upcoming wedding in Italy.
It didn’t take long for Kardashian to join the upper echelons of the fashion industry. Also in 2014, she sat alongside Italian designer Valentino Garavani at a Valentino haute couture show in Paris. Her aqua green dress was a Valentino creation.
The 2013 Met Gala fiasco was a distant memory in 2016, when Kardashian and West coordinated their looks for the opening of the “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The appropriately futuristic metallic ensembles were designed by Olivier Rousteing for Balmain.
Two years later, while attending the 2018 Met Gala without West, Kardashian still managed to steal the spotlight and to echo the theme of that year’s spring exhibition with aplomb. For the opening of “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” she made a grand entrance in a gold Versace dress decorated with crosses.
For the most recent Met Gala, in 2019, Kardashian squeezed her frame into a skin-tight Mugler dress embellished with beads and cinched at the waist. Also making a mark with her wet hair and flawless make-up, she later revealed that she was unable to sit for the entire event.
Last but not least, this bonus shot from the same Kardashian Kollection launch attended by Kardashian and Humphrey in 2011 shows the entire Kardashian klan, klad (sorry, I couldn’t help it) in a mishmash of prints and frilly dresses that are a throwback to their simple life – fashion faux pas included – of yore.
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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