NOSTALGIA

41 Photos That Document Kanye West’s Journey to Becoming a 41-Year-Old Fashion Plate

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Once upon a time, long before Yeezy and long before he was writing lyrics about his “b—-” wearing “that new Phoebe Philo,” there were pretty much no indications that Kanye West, who turns 41 on Friday, would one day have the audacity to, say, regularly email Kim Kardashian mood board–filled lectures on the size of her sunglasses. (Not to mention shamelessly spam everyone’s Instagram feeds by posting no less than 99 photos of vintage Maison Martin Margiela looks in a row.) A quick flashback to his 20s proves that West burst onto the scene not only with hits like “All Falls Down”—in which he confessed to not knowing how to pronounce Versace—but also with a wardrobe comprised of pastel green and hot pink polos and cable-knit sweaters. West is, of course, far from the only one to have transformed his style since the early 2000s, but the former backpack rapper’s transformation is particularly worth a reminiscence for the innocence it portrays, which is now so foreign from the ego and controversy he’s famous for today. Speaking of the present, his current industry-friendliness is in fact just the latest of the obsessions that have made up his style over the years, from baggy jeans to bucket hats to those once ubiquitous fully zippered Bape hoodies to, of course, those infamous shutter shades. In honor of his 41st birthday, take a look back at all of those past Kanyes, who vanished into the ether after he interned at Fendi with Virgil Abloh in 2009, here.

1

Kanye West backstage at the Truth Tour, in Baltimore, August 2004.

2

Kanye West performing at WGCI FM’s annual Big Jam concert, in Chicago, December 2004.

3

Kanye West at the 32nd annual American Music Awards, in Los Angeles, November 2004.

4

Kanye West on a visit to MTV’s TRL with Raven-Symoné, February 2004.

5

Kanye West at the 2004 Clive Davis pre–Grammy Awards party, in Beverly Hills, February 2004.

6

Kanye West at Lifebeat’s Hearts and Voices concert, in New York, March 2004.

7

Kanye West with Rosario Dawson at Hip-Hop Theater Festival’s first Hip-Hop Unity Concert, June 2003.

8

Kanye West on MTV’s TRL, in New York, March 2004.

9

Kanye West at the Paradiso Amsterdam, May 2004.

10

Britney Spears and Kanye West backstage at the 2004 Billboard Awards, December 2004.

11

Kanye West on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, April 2004.

12

Kanye West at Twista’s performance at S.O.B.s, in New York, January 2004.

13

Kanye West at the 2004 BET Awards, June 2004.

14

Kanye West, Kevin Liles of Def Jam, and Juelz Santana at the Philadelphia Hip-Hop Summit, in Philadelphia, August 2003.

15

Kanye West at the video shoot for College Dropout, January 2004.

16

Kanye West at his album preview party, July 2003.

17

Kanye West at the 2004 BET Awards, June 2004.

18

Kanye West at the 2004 Governors Membership Awards luncheon, in Beverly Hills, June 2004.

19

Kanye West performing with Usher on his Truth Tour, in Los Angeles, September 2004.

20

Kanye West performing on the first stop of Usher’s Truth Tour, in Hampton, Virginia, August 2004.

21

Kanye West at GQ‘s Fresh Dressed Awards, October 2004.

22

Kanye West at GQ‘s event honoring Bulgari, in New York, October 2004.

23

Kanye West at the MTV Europe Music Awards, in Rome, November 2004.

24

Kanye West rehearsing for the 32nd-annual American Music Awards, in Los Angeles, November 2004.

25

Kanye West performing at Madison Square Garden, in New York, November 2004.

26

Kanye West at the fourth-annual BET Awards, June 2004.

27

Kanye West at the premiere of Jay-Z’s Fade to Black, in New York, November 2004.

28

Kanye West backstage at an EA Games party, in Tokyo, December 2004.

29

Kanye West after receiving 10 Grammy nominations at the 47th annual Grammy Awards, in Hollywood, December 2004.

30

Kanye West at an Artist Empowerment Coalition pre-Grammys brunch, in Beverly Hills, February 2005.

31

Kanye West performing “Jesus Walks” at the 47th annual Grammy Awards, in Los Angeles, February 2005.

32

Kanye West at the third annual MTV TRL Awards, February 2005.

33

Kanye West at the 2005 VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, in New York, September 2005.

34

Kanye West at CBS Studios, in New York, August 2005.

35

Kanye West performing at Santa Monica High School, in Los Angeles, December 2005.

36

Kanye West at Clive Davis’s 2006 pre–Grammy Awards party, in Los Angeles, February 2006.

37

Kanye West at the G.O.O.D Music “Heavenly” Grammy afterparty, in Los Angeles, February 2006.

38

Kanye West, in New York, May 2006.

39

Kanye West at New York Fashion Week, September 2006.

40

Vivienne Westwood and Kanye West at Paris Fashion Week, in October 2007.

41

Kanye West at Paris Fashion Week, October 2006.

42

Kanye West performing at the 50th annual Grammy Awards, in Los Angeles, February 2008.