It all started with a photo of a brunette woman wearing a strawberry sorbet-colored high-waist bikini, black cat-eye sunglasses and an enormous straw hat with a black ribbon tied neatly beneath her chin. The location appeared to be somewhere in the South of France circa 1957. If you had told me it was a photo of Brigitte Bardot’s younger sister, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash, save for the anachronistic, inflatable pink flamingo she was perched upon.
As it turns out, the woman was none other than world-famous supermodel Kendall Nicole Jenner, and the year was none other than 2017. The dawning of this realization funneled me down a rabbit hole of epic proportions, because this was not the Kendall Jenner of yore (and by “yore,” I mean a few short months ago). This Kendall Jenner had an entirely new sartorial persona.
My rabbit hole began in the search box of Man Repeller’s Getty Images account, where I typed in “Kendall Jenner” and selected “most recent.” I was subsequently thrilled to discover hard evidence of a hunch I had formed in the wake of her high-waist bikini debut: In a period spanning two short weeks, Kendall Jenner had totally reinvented her style.
Take this delightful, all-white ensemble she wore out and about in NYC on June 3rd. Part slip dress, part petticoat (who knew the perfect counterpart to eyelet was a pair of winking nipples underneath just the right amount of sheerness? Leandra just told me it’s from a brand called Daisy) with big gold hoops, tortoiseshell cat-eye shades, patent leather booties and the teeny-tiniest of purses. I really like how she did her hair, too – it’s very “nonchalant teen taking a science test.”
Tracing back a day earlier to June 2nd, I found myself face-to-screen with yet another exciting outfit, this one punctuated by two especially exciting accessories: a quilted Chanel fanny pack (yes! fanny pack!) and green satin slippers with pompoms. Yum.
A mere two days before that, on May 31st, she was photographed in Tribeca wearing what looked like the same fanny pack alongside an Eckhaus Latta turtleneck, the coolest Illesteva sunglasses I ever did see and deeply excellent jeans featuring an asymmetrical crotch.
For the first time in all my wizened years of observing Kendall Jenner from afar, I found myself thinking, I’ll have what she’s having. All of it.
The reinvention of one’s style is not incredibly remarkable in and of itself, simply because celebrities reinvent their style all the time. Heck, Susan Sarandon is 70 years old and still doing it with more aplomb than many an ingénue. What makes Kendall Jenner’s recent journey from aesthetic A to aesthetic B remarkable is the sheer distance traveled in such a lightning-fast amount of time. She hasn’t just fallen into a new trend profile. She’s leapt into an entirely new stratosphere wherein the communicative symphony of a “look” is not only conducted through what you’re wearing, but also how you wear it, and why you’re choosing to channel that particular version of yourself. Other denizens of this stratosphere include: Alexa Chung, Ruth Negga, Rihanna, Elle Fanning, Solange and the aforementioned Susan Sarandon – all people who repeatedly generate that telltale, pleasant itch compelling me to rethink how I’m getting dressed.
Now excuse me while I enter another, albeit different variety of rabbit hole – this one involving the pursuit of fanny packs and summer turtlenecks and jeans with asymmetrical crotches.
ADDENDUM: It has been rightfully pointed out in the comments that a chunk of credit for Kendall Jenner’s style shift may very well be owed to her brand new stylist, Marni Senofonte, who recently replaced her previous stylist, Monica Rose. Senofonte was also the (clearly talented) stylist behind Beyonce’s LEMONADE visual album. It’s interesting writing about celebrity style given that they almost always have a stylist, and there’s no way of knowing how much input is coming from the client herself. I’m inclined to think of the final product (a.k.a. the outfits we see photographed on red carpets and sidewalks) as the result of a collaboration between the stylist’s research and suggestions and the celebrity’s taste and preferences — at the very minimum — and I can’t wait to see what these two cook up next.