In the season finale of the Kardashians, the narrative is as rich as couture. KimKris and North head to Paris, where Kim will walk the Balenciaga clue. Kris and Kim are careful to emphasize that this is different from the last few fashion weeks on the show: This is haute couture, marking a whole new milestone for Kim in her ever-expanding media reign. It’s important to note the irony of a historically insular fashion tradition now being enacted on a reality show for mass consumption: once you realize that the Kardashians are dedicated to marrying the “high” with the everyday, you will find that dialectic in most of their stories and products. Do these elite institutions appreciate Kim for the publicity she provides as much as she seems to trust them for her legitimacy?
The episode is also filled with intertextual reminiscences of past trips to Paris as a reminder to the viewer of how far family has come, as well as many tender reflections on mother-daughter bonds and some pontification on the value of high couture (not to mention, for Kris, a tongue-in-cheek lesson on how to pronounce certain designers’ names). Also, Kylie takes Stormi to the Billboard Awards in Las Vegas to support an invisible Travis Scott, and Kravis has dinner at home with the kids. Here are three things that kept me awake after the final episode of the second season of The Kardashians.
Take your daughter to work day
This episode reflects, in part, the builds on Kim’s legacy for her daughter North, who joined her in Paris. Her day begins when North visits Kim glammed up as she wears a classic Pastelle jacket Kanye wore many years ago when she performed in Paris. “Kanye tends not to care about her things and he gives them all away,” Kim explains. But, in true Kris Jenner tradition, she’s gotten intentional in asking him to put away certain fashion pieces and other artifacts for the sake of the kids. “Even when he was at the height of being mad at me, I still texted him and said, ‘I know you just won some Grammys, I have to add them to the vault.’ And he said, ‘Okay.’ Maybe the vault is for the kids, but it’s not hard to imagine the public display of cumulatively collected Kimye relics that everybody could see sometime in the future. As the day progresses, Kim explains why she has taken North.
“Every child has at least one trip with me a year,” Kim tells us in a confessional before we see her at the Jean Paul Gaultier showroom, introducing North to the team. “He shows my daughter the work I’m doing. I like to show him that work can be fun.” Of course, North is also a stand-in for the audience, as we, too, get insight into the various to-dos of Kim’s life in the fashion industry. In the process, we also learn about another very personal piece in the Kardashian fashion archive, as Kim explains to her daughter that Olivier Rousteing it is. “Northie, Olivier…they gave dad this blue dress that dad wanted for me.” The camera cuts to a photo of the deep blue. Balmain dress Kim wore on her birthday in 2013. “You got in my tummy the night I wore that dress. So Olivier could have something to do with why you’re on this planet.” North only looks at her mother, but the message of her conception story is clear: clothing can be a story, a symbol, and a time code. And it’s the creation of those meanings through haute couture that constitutes Kim’s work this week, as a legacy reality star bringing cameras to Paris.
Everybody on their phones at dinner with Kravis
Next, we see Kourtney and Travis Barker at home, trying to enjoy a candlelit dinner with all their kids (minus Mason), but there’s one problem: they’re all glued to their phones. “Should we have a no-tech rule?” Kourtney asks. For an episode that depicts some rather unrelatable couture settings, the tabletop infiltration dilemma seems, at first, refreshingly universal. However, there is a crucial difference. The Kardashian content machine is a fundamental aspect of social media itself, which makes this scene somewhat ironic: the very medium the family dominated now, apparently, dominates them.
“You can’t write this shit”
The season ends with all the ladies reflecting on the ups and downs of life. “You can’t write this shit,” Khloé comments. Kim echoes the sentiment in her own way. “The best part of my life is that I can never foresee what the next chapter will be, and I don’t want to foresee it. I just like to live it, in the moment.” With this, it becomes clear that the Kardashians are ambivalent about their reputation as expert stewards of their own media narratives. They want to tell us that their reality show does, in fact, represent true reality, yet another irony in an episode that tells a story so effectively. on storytelling with cameras, fashion and family tradition. They even create a cliffhanger: In the final scene, Kim asks Khloé what they should name her new child, and the family jokes around without even answering the question. I have a feeling we’ll have to wait until season three to find out the answer.