Inside Hidden Hills, Shangri-La to the Kanye set

Among many other things, Kanye West prides himself on his exacting architectural taste. His $4.5 million Claudio Silvestrin-designed New York apartment, for instance, is an aggressively minimalist space filled with hard right angles and French limestone. And West’s Hollywood Hills bachelor pad provided a showcase of SoCal Brutalism (he sold it for $2.95 million in 2017). But, if reports and local chatter north of the Ventura Freeway are to be believed, these were but precursors to his masterpiece, the 20,000-square-foot Shangri-La he’s building with wife Kim Kardashian West in the very-much-gated and until-very-recently sleepy enclave of Hidden Hills.

Since August 2014, when the world’s most famous couple purchased their dream home from Lisa Marie Presley for $20 million, their mega-mansion has remained in a state of constant construction. Among locals it has become known as the “never-ending remodel,” and outside of the community, it has become an object of total tabloid fascination. According to TMZ, convoys of dump trucks have rumbled through the exclusive neighborhood’s near-trafficless, pin-drop quiet streets as the Kardashian-Wests’ two separate swimming pools were filled in and excavation began for an artificial lake. A forest of mature trees as well as two vineyards appear, in aerial tabloid photography, to have been removed. The Daily Mail reported that textured beige finish was added to the home’s facade then, as if on a whim, buffed away—and that an entire new wing was added to one section of the property. One’s mileage may vary on such reports, but whatever the case, the renovations continue.

In Hidden Hills, however, an insider says West has been frustrated by strict local rules and regulations enforced by the powerful Hidden Hills Community Association that effectively limit how much he can alter his mansion’s original aesthetic (a “French Country piece de resistance” according to its listing). He may have spent $110,000 on a Le Corbusier lamp made of “rocks and cement” and admire the buildings of Catalan surrealist Antoni Gaudí, but if West is considering erecting any kind of cutting-edge steel-and-glass edifice he would need approval from the community, in the interest of neighborhood orthodoxy. Think three-dimensional Norman Rockwell painting—a throwback to Hidden Hills’ establishment as an equestrian-based, ranch-style alterna-L.A. in the 1950s.

“The homeowners association is run by volunteers from the community who aren’t impressed—at least publicly—by who you are,” says a local architect who works in the community, but who requested anonymity for fear of running afoul of Hidden Hills’ unofficial omertà. “Their goal is to maintain the lifestyle. You can’t get away with whatever you’re trying to get away with: ‘We’re Hidden Hills and we’re bigger and better than you.’ They’re almost religious in their zeal.”

Read more at Vanity Fair.