Kim Kardashian & Kanye West’s love story – how his ‘power moves’ & ruthless style advice made them a billion dollar duo
IT'S BEEN been exactly eight years since Kim Kardashian confirmed in a tweet that she was Kanye West’s girlfriend, the couple had been friends for years before she made the announcement in June 2012, but many were left wondering if this was another publicity stunt by the world famous selfie queen or had she finally fallen in love with her Mr. Forever.
The jury were out on whether the geeky, polarising rapper could hold Kim’s interest, but 16 years of knowing each other, six years of marriage and four kids later, the couple are still together.
So, how exactly did the billionaire music and streetwear mogul manage to win over the woman whose body, brand and brains have been credited with ‘breaking the Internet’?
Love at first sight for Kanye
Some of the strongest marriages start off as friendships and this pair were mates for years before things got romantic.
The couple first met around 2004, Kim was newly single after splitting with first husband Damon Thomas and was working as a personal shopper and stylist for US R&B singer Brandy, who at the time was collaborating with Kanye on a number of music projects.
The rapper would later admit on the Kris Jenner Show that it was love at first sight: “She bought us in something to drink in the studio,” said Kanye, now 43 in the 2013 interview. “And I was like to a friend: ’who’s that girl there!’”
And what did Kim, now 39, think of Kanye at the time?
“I thought you were attractive, nice, very charming, really funny, powerful – I was in awe of you,” she told Kanye when he interviewed her for Vogue Arabia in 2019.
“But I was really shy, quiet, and a little nervous, to be honest.”
Although Kim and Brandy (whose brother Ray J stars in Kim’s infamous sex tape) drifted apart, she remained on Kanye’s radar, with things stepping up a notch when in 2006 Kanye saw a picture of Kim on holiday: “I remember I saw a picture of her and Paris Hilton,” he told Ryan Seacrest in a radio interview in 2013.
“And I remember telling my boy, ‘Have you seen that girl Kim Kar-dijon?'”
Kanye starts the chase
He may not have been able to get her surname right, but from that point on Kanye’s pursuit of his future wife was on, the self-professed ‘class clown’ was ready to take Kim away from her regular, six-pack, football player type, and funnily enough it started on a comedy show.
In 2008, they filmed a satirical puppet show called Alligator Boots, Kanye, who was co-creator of the failed pilot, engineered Kim to appear as a guest, playing a potential love interest for him.
The scene sees him dressed as a stormtrooper and her as a bikini-clad Princess Leia.
Although, in life imitating art, she turns him down, this time for a puppet called Beary White. There is however, some on-screen chemistry, with Kanye later gushing on the Kris Jenner show that the meeting was a dream come true: “I was playing a Star Wars character and I wanted her to be Princess Leia because she was my dream girl,” he told his now mother-in law.
“I remember being so nervous around her, and so in awe that she was actually in front of me…I was in love with her before I was even able to talk to her.”
He goes on to joke about his obsession with Kim and how he wasn’t her usual type: “There were times when I wasn’t with her, that I wanted to be with her so bad that I thought about taking up sports.”
Did Kanye’s sense of humour win Kim round?
Although their friendship began to flourish after this point, they continued to date other people, but this didn’t mean that Kanye’s feelings weren’t as strong as ever, and in April 2009, while Kim was dating American Football player Reggie Bush, Kanye let them be known when he added some spicy guest vocals to Keri Hilson track ‘Knock You Down’.
Kanye sang the lyrics: “You were always the cheerleader of my dreams. Seem to only date the head of football teams. And I was the class clown that always kept you laughing. We were never meant to be, baby we just happened.” He then adds, “You should leave your boyfriend now.”
He references his ability to make Kim laugh which many close to the couple have listed as one of his best qualities.
I remember being so nervous around her, and so in awe that she was actually in front of me…I was in love with her before I was even able to talk to her.
In a 2017 interview with Refinery29, Kim’s right-hand woman Stephanie Shepherd talked about the hip hop star’s great sense of humour: “I think people would be surprised to know how funny Kanye is,” she said.
He has me rolling laughing, and sometimes I’m like, ‘Is this inappropriate that I’m laughing so hard?’ But he’s just so f—in hilarious, he has these one-liners, and he’s just so unfiltered, he makes me laugh so hard.”
Stephanie also mentions another trait that workaholic Kim eventually fell for, and would see the pair become one of the richest power couples in the world: “He’s also truly the hardest working man I’ve ever met.”
Dating in secret?
And when it comes to work, Kanye wasn’t only working on his own music while the pair’s friendship blossomed.
Who could forget Kim’s single Jam – Turn It Up?
Kanye worked on the video for the song, and years later Kim would post some sexy ‘throwback’ behind the scenes pictures of her and Kanye looking pretty close, they insisted they were just friends back then but rumours were rife, and Kanye’s ex Amber Rose would later name Kim as one of the reasons she and ‘Yeezy’ split: “She's a home wrecker! They were both cheating. They were both cheating on me and Reggie with each other." She told Star magazine in 2012.
Secret affair or not, Kim and Kanye remained friends in public, and despite the 21-time Grammy award winner sending her love letters via email and releasing more music as an ode to her, Kim still only had eyes for her ‘footballer type’ pursing a relationship, and then ill-fated marriage to Kris Humphries, giving Kanye even more content to sing about.
But were her feelings for Kanye the reason that the 2011 marriage to Kris lasted just 72-days?
Kris Humphries would later claim that Kim was cheating on him with Kanye and that was the reason that Kanye wasn’t invited to their wedding.
But Kim wasn’t giving anything away and continued to refute stories of a relationship in the press and even as she started being pictured with Kanye she denied the relationship to her own family: "Just because I'm seen with someone, does it automatically mean that he's my boyfriend?” she replied when questioned by brother Rob on the show.
It would take until June 2012 for them to confirm they were romantically involved, when Kim posted a tweet calling herself Kanye’s girlfriend.
So what made her finally give in to Kanye’s advances? The pair spent a week together after her split from Kris.
“When I went to New York and we went to dinner and the movies, it was just so much fun,” she told Kanye in the Vogue Arabia interview.
“It was super chill and so effortless being together. After spending that whole week together, I realized you were the one and then I was like, damn, why did I waste so much time and energy? Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
And the pair moved quickly after that, Kim announced she was pregnant six months later, the couple had their first child North West in June 2013 and then got engaged in October 2013 and married the following May in Florence.
Looks like friendship, sense of humour and a shared work ethic had finally got Kanye his girl. But was it a done deal?
Kim already had two failed marriages to her name, could this be another? But the year’s passed and Kanye gushed non-stop about how he’d bagged the most beautiful woman in the world, but how did he actually keep hold of the most famous woman on the planet?
Kanye introduces Kim to the world of high fashion
Although a stylist by trade, Kim had made her fair share of questionable outfit choices and as Kanye and his stylist pointed out in a KUWTK episode in August 2012, many of her clothes weren’t ‘cool enough’.
At this point Kanye’s star was rising in the fashion world, having taken an internship at Fendi in 2009, he then collaborated with A.P.C and Nike, followed by two of his own collections for his original label DW had being shown at fashion week.
Whereas Kim’s DASH stores were aimed at fans and more of a high street buyer, Kanye was dabbling with the echelons of high fashion – a market Kim had never managed to break. Many within the industry thought that Kanye’s career could be harmed by his choice of partner.
“I could have people saying that this is going to damage your credibility as an artist or as a designer and I say I don’t care I love this woman.” he told the Kris Jenner Show in 2013.
And instead of letting it affect his career, Kanye would use his eye for style, his business mind and his excellent contacts to help project Kim’s status, leading to a pregnant Kim, dressed in a custom-made Givenchy gown, attending the Met Gala in 2013, even though she was reportedly banned the year before by Anna Wintour.
Shortly after she would join Kanye on the cover of Vogue’s 2014 April issue, before gracing her own Vogue covers in the U.S and all over the world.
Hundreds more magazine covers would follow including the famous ‘Breaking the Internet’ cover for the achingly cool Paper magazine, soon the world’s most renowned designers would be lining up to dress her.
And Kim makes no secret that Kanye was behind her new found fashion fame. “When I met you, you gave me the biggest closet makeover,” She told him in the Vogue Arabia interview.
“I didn’t understand at the time why you wanted to get rid of pretty much everything I owned, but I pretended like I did. You were showing me all of these different designers that I had never heard of before. Now, I totally get it. Now I’m very confident in what I wear. You have been my best stylist.”
She goes on to add: “You know you were one who brought out that confidence in me. You showed me a whole other way. I really wasn’t that artistic or anything before.”
Love of family seals the deal
We all know that Kim comes from a large and close knit family but this bond is something that Kanye has always craved and it came as no surprise that the couple always planned on having a large brood of their own.
Although the couple haven’t slowed down when it comes to business and humanitarian ventures, they both agree that family is the most important thing to them.
“There’s been times when things have happened in my family and I thought our careers were over. I’d say: ‘Girls I hope you’ve saved up your money, because it’s over for us — but we got each other, so let’s all move to an island and have some fun now,” said Kim in a 2016 Interview with Wonderland magazine.
“If I’ve got Kanye, if I’ve got my family, then f*** the whole world.”
Now parents to four kids: North, 7 Saint, 4, Chicago, 2 and one-year-old Psalm, the pair have seen some difficult births and indeed some difficult deaths, most prominently that of Kanye’s mother Donda West in 2007 and his grandfather Portwood Williams Sr. in 2013, where Kim missed sister Kylie Jenner’s 16th birthday party to be by then boyfriend Kanye’s side at the funeral in Oklahoma.
“When I was on the phone to Kim, even at my lowest moment she would give me energy and remind me who I was, and I needed that support,” said Kanye in the Kris Jenner interview.
“She’s my joy and she brought my new joy into the world,” he said of the birth of North who had just been born at the time of the death.
So, what’s next?
There’s been mixed reports as to how well the couple have been getting on during months of self-isolation, but Instagram pictures this month of Kanye’s birthday and then North’s birthday show the couple very much in love, although Kim joked with American talk show The View that things had been pretty challenging.
“Being at home with four kids, if I ever thought for a minute that I wanted another one – that is out," she laughed.
"It's been tough juggling it all and you really have to put yourself on the back burner and just focus on the kids."
They’ve had their ups and downs, from tackling mental health issues, celebrity spats and the Paris robbery to Kanye’s polarising tweets and Kim’s family arguments, but the couple are stronger than ever, their video interview with Architectural Digest earlier this year sees them relaxed at home and joking about what they love and dislike about their home.
And its seems this shared sense of humour and the couple’s strong work ethic, with new projects including Kim’s Justice Project looking into prison reform and Kanye making moves into the beauty market might just see this billion dollar relationship last the distance.
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