from reality tv to couture runway: kim kardashian’s fashion evolution


photo by lira via creative commons

In the 15 years that Kim Kardashian has been in the spotlight, it seems like her stardom only continues to grow. Her rise to fame first began back in 2006 when she was spotted alongside Paris Hilton and grew after being one of the main characters on the reality TV show “Keeping Up With Kardashians.” For the longest time many thought that Kim would be nothing more than another reality TV star with no important impact in society or culture. However, she quickly transformed into the ultimate influencer, and at 41 years old Kim has firmly established herself as an important figure in fashion.


How does she do it? It’s a question that us commoners still ask ourselves. How does someone who seemingly serves more as the canvas than the artist hold so much power and influence in an industry as creative as fashion? While that’s a code that is still yet to be cracked, there’s no question that her relationship with Kanye West heightened her sense of style significantly. 


Kanye’s innate fashion sense and endless connections with high fashion designers noticeably evolved Kim’s fashion game for the better. Gone are the days of no designers wanting to dress her, and in came one of the most sought after celebrities in the industry. Since then she has set multiple trends, broke the internet numerous times and has established her own relationships with some of the best designers in fashion. We have all witnessed how far Kim Kardashian has come, and so now let’s take a look back through her fashion journey.

Givenchy Debut

The moment where it all began, Kim’s ascension into the high fashion world is because of the works of Ricardo Tisci who was the creative director of Givenchy at the time. He was one of the first designers to take a chance on Kim and help show the world that she is more than just a reality TV star. In 2013 she had her Met Gala debut where she wore a Givenchy floral gown with matching floral gloves. While the dress received heavy criticism at the time by being compared to the couch in “Mrs. Doubtfire”, it still did its job by putting Kim Kardashian in the spotlight at one of the biggest and most exclusive events of the year. Kim also wore Givenchy in 2014 for her wedding in which she wore a stunning floor length gown with lace gloves, waist cutouts and a long veil.

Balmain Barbie

Kim clicked with Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain, after meeting at the Met Gala in 2013, so it was only a matter of time until she entered the Balmain Army. In an article for CNN, Rousteing expressed that he loved dressing Kim and was proud to have her as a muse.


“She’s my friend, she’s a woman that I love for different reasons,” he told CNN. “First, I think she’s powerful, she’s representing the new world and she represents the new family: Kim, Kanye, North. I think that’s a modern family…I also think she’s pushing boundaries when it comes to the female form. I love dressing her, she’s a different body type to the models on my catwalk.”


Before Lil Nas X’s custom Balmain suit at the 2022 Grammy’s, Kim did it first back in 2014 where she wore a gorgeous white beaded Balmain minidress at her bachelorette party. Some other standout looks were her chocolate brown skintight latex look, her all-white braided rope dress and of course her metallic silver gown for the 2016 Met Gala.  

Mugler Muse

It’s not everyday that you see celebrities be able to access Mugler clothes much less be able to wear custom Mugler designs, and yet Kim was able to make it happen. Kim somehow was able to convince Mugler to come out of retirement and create his first design since 2003 for the 2019 Met Gala, which ended up being arguably one of her best looks to this day. The custom design was a nude latex dress with dripping crystals down the outfit. Beyond her Met Gala look, Kim was also able to wear archival Mugler such as the vintage snakeskin dress from 1983 she wore on “The Tonight Show” and the pink sheer gown with a gold bodice from 1999 that she wore at the opening of the Thierry Mugler exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Yeezy Mascot

In 2018, it was nearly impossible to catch a moment where Kim was wearing something that wasn’t Yeezy, Kanye West’s fashion label. Definitely one of her most influential and trendsetting fashion eras, Kim was the unspoken mascot for the Yeezy brand. Before the pandemic, Kim Kardashian was already starting the athleisure trend after being spotted in biker shorts, sports bras, sweatshirts and sneakers. A step away from her typical bodycon dresses and heels, her Yeezy era showed a more casual side to Kim. This was also a time Kim embraced a more neutral color palette with her clothes. While this moment of fashion for Kim was more of her showing support to her (former) husband than trying to make a style statement, it was clearly impactful enough to be forever tied to her fashion journey.


All that being said, this era was also one of her most noticeably problematic moments. She was accused of blackfishing multiple times with her unacceptable use of wearing cornrows. While that was already bad in and of itself, the fact that cornrows were suddenly considered an “it hair trend” after Kim was spotted with them only made the situation worse. The cultural appropriation and complete tone deafness that Kim Kardashian willingly took part of was not acceptable in any manner (even if she was just trying to “match her daughter’s hair style” as she addressed to the public). 

Balenciaga Babe

Since Kim has become the face of Balenciaga it is now difficult to think of one without the other. Of all of her fashion moments, her current loyalty with Balenciaga has pushed her into her most avant garde and daring style era. In an interview at Condé Nast, when asked how she would describe her current style she labeled it as “futuristic alien Barbie.” There are definitely elements of truth to that when you look at everything Balenciaga has dressed her in. This March she gave construction Barbie at the Balenciaga A/W ‘22 show where she wore head-to-toe yellow duct tape fashioned as a catsuit. Her 2021 Met Gala look was one of the most talked about moments of the night in her all-black ensemble that covered every part of her body from head to toe. It doesn’t seem like she plans to move on anytime soon considering she just recently walked in the Balenciaga F/W ‘23 couture show

Kim Kardashian has come much further in her fashion influence than anyone could have ever predicted based off of when she first entered the spotlight. With over 300 million followers on Instagram, multiple businesses, a ton of designer connections and endless publicity opportunities, Kim Kardashian has rightfully earned the respect and admiration that’s given to her within the fashion industry. She continues to hold powerful influence over the masses, which can sometimes be bad, and plays a part in setting new trends each season. Every style era Kim has gone through has given us something completely different, which makes it all that much more exciting to see which brand she goes to next and how she plans to deliver.


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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.