Kanye West once again disrupted the New York Fashion Week schedule and the status quo with his Yeezy Season 3, presentation. The event, held on February 11th at Madison Square Gardens was simultaneously a fashion show, album debut, performance piece, and cultural commentary. Long time West collaborator, the artist Vanessa Beecroft, orchestrated the show which started with a giant tarp. When the tarp was removed, models donning the collection were revealed on elevated platforms surrounded by hundreds of street-cast extras in thrifted clothing that was dyed to match the Yeezy Season 3 color palette. The models and extras continued to remain mostly still for over ninety minutes as West’s brand new album, The Life of Pablo (and yes, West is comparing himself to Picasso), played in its entirety for the first time ever.
Unlike the typical fashion week event where tickets are doled out to those deemed important by the fashion gods, fans could buy tickets to the event and the whole thing was live streamed in movie theaters around the would and on music streaming service, Tidal, which eventually crashed from traffic. In true Kanye style, the presentation method seemed to scream “Who needs clothing critics when your audience is the entire world?”
However, West didn’t completely turn away from the fashion elite and in fact told audience member and notorious Kanye-convert, Anna Wintour that “to be the creative director of Hermès would be a dream.” During the show he publicly thanked the omnipresent Olivier Rousteing who designed the Balmain x Yeezy custom white garments that donned the entire clan of Kardashian/Jenner reality stars. Supermodels Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, and Veronica Webb held court among the hundreds of Yeezy clad, Benetton worthy models and extras. Although Miss Campbell eschewed her usual spike heels in favor of Adidas lace-up hiking boots she was still unmistakable in a floor length fur coat that stood in stark contrast in a sea of body-stockings (a Yeezy staple) and layered outerwear. Another notable guest was Lamar Odom in his first public appearance since being hospitalized. His presence fueled tabloid rumors of a reconciliation with Khloe Kardashian and added fire to the media frenzy of the presentation. Also in attendance were Carine Roitfeld, Karlie Kloss, Lil Kim, 50 Cent, Jaden Smith, Rosie O’donell, Jennifer Hudson, Chloe Sevigny, ASAP Rocky, and Jay Z. Missing from the show was West’s new baby, Saint, who is yet to be seen in public.
As for the clothes themselves, the collection was a more colorful version of past Yeezy offerings. The camo print jackets, baggy dungarees, and skintight leotards in sunbleached hues of red, orange, and browns (and one pair of cyan knee-high socks) looked as if Blade Runner replicants and Desert Storm soldiers had a tussle in the South West and ended up in layers of each other’s clothing dusted with sand. The garments coupled with Beecroft’s arrangement resembled a refugee camp and made many wonder if West was joining the ranks of musicians such as M.I.A. and Beyonce by using music and fashion to make a commentary about communities displaced by crisis.
Kanye West’s presentation was meant to unveil the garments of Yeezy Season 3 and The Life of Pablo to the public but its hard to say that the collection and the album were the most important elements in play at the event. Maybe the lesson of Yeezy is that fashion, music, art, and politics are no longer separate entities as technology enables the meshing of culture and ideas around the globe. West himself closed out the Madison Square Gardens extravaganza with the declaration, “I just want to bring as much beauty as possible to the world.”
Image 1 courtesy of Yeezy
Images 2 & 3 courtesy of Getty Images
Image 4 courtesy NY Times
Image 5 courtesy Atlantic Post