Even if the Kardashian era as we knew it really is over, the Kardashians themselves were never going anywhere. All they have to do is turn a corner.
And turn a corner they have: Kim has bangs, Kendall actually served something, and Kourtney got married so hard that they made a TV show out of it. And Kylie Jenner, well, Kylie has fully rebranded as a cool girl.
This past summer has been a boom time for Kylie’s reputation, style-wise, and her star turn for Acne Studios’ FW23 denim campaign is the flashpoint moment.
The youngest modeling Jenner has quietly become a favorite of Fashion Twitter, a fickle and loosely defined collective that obsessively pores over runways, campaigns, and street style photos to select the season’s winning and losing brands, celebrities, and stylists.
Now, Kylie Jenner certainly didn’t singularly task her team with refurbishing her good name simply to impress relatively anonymous Twitter users alone — I guess we call them “X users” now? — but it’s worth recognizing that these folks are generally indicative of greater fashion inclinations.
And, yes, there is an entire cottage industry based around reshaping perceptions of otherwise ordinary celebs as aspirationally stylish individuals.
Effusive they may be, that these folks are recognizing Kylie’s transition from conventional supermodel to honest-to-god “cool girl” is proof that her rebrand is working.
The Acne Studios campaign isn’t sole evidence of Kylie’s repositioning, mind you, but it is her most observable crossover moment.
It’s a moment defined by provocative styling — “wet” hair, bare skin smudged with body paint — and the fact that it’s Kylie Jenner modeling for Acne Studios. Oh, and Kylie’s visible presence as a capital-S Supermodel, too.
That’s the thing. Kylie is one of the world’s most-recognized supermodels and is well-off enough that she’s free to be selective with her campaigns. This Acne campaign was a choice.
Acne Studios is an indie label that exists in a comfortable space outside of the conventional luxury space.
Acne has earned its reputation through solid product, a lengthy legacy, and an admirably honed vision that’s evolved over the years. It has proven itself consistent and its customers appreciate that.
Though Acne doesn’t typically court big-name influencers, they do wear its product of their own volition. It doesn’t need to work with a big name but there is something subversive in its willingness to do it anyways.
The Kylie/Acne crossover comes at a turning point for each party, where Kylie benefits from picking up on Acne’s independent spirit and Acne only gets more eyeballs for pulling a Jenner’s stamp of approval.
It helps that the imagery is also terribly strong.
So, the Acne campaign is the peak of Kylie Jenner as “cool girl” but she had to start somewhere.
For the past several months, Kylie’s been earning her IYKYK stripes, modeling for perpetually cool enfants terrible Jean Paul Gaultier and wearing covetable designer vintage in her free time.
Kylie and/or whoever’s helping guide her transformation has a keen eye, selecting some real insider-y bits from both proven designers like Yohji Yamamoto and upstarts like Dilara Fındıkoğlu.
It’s a neat trick affected by similarly wealthy young women like Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski, and Bella Hadid, who’ve all built a solid reputation as tastemakers due to their natty sense of off-duty style.
Kylie has been especially successful at translating her own street-style cred into reliably “cool” professional work. Again, it helps that she has the freedom to work only when, where, and with whom as she sees fit.
It’s tough enough to affect genuine coolness as someone who’s comfortably rich — the laissez faire attitude inherent to truly “cool” individuals is only ever demonstrated, never bought. Authenticity is everything.
Tall order for someone whose entire life is managed and polished by a team of professionals and even taller order for a member of America’s most-famous family.
That Kylie, who only a few years ago was arguably most famous for being a billionaire and then not actually being a billionaire but actually a mere multi-multimillionaire, is now considered by picky fashion people to be cool? A true feat of rebranding.
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