On Friday, just moments before the Givenchy show—fashion week’s buzziest event—West announced that he would be holding his own, impromptu presentation on September 16.
Not only did it quickly become the next “must-see” event, but it also interrupted two other shows: Naeem Kahn’s and the debut of Anne Bowen’s streetwear collection, Nomad VII.
It has rapidly become the sequel to West’s infamous “I’m gonna let you finish, but…” tirade with Taylor Swift in 2009. But instead of stealing the mic, he stole a timeslot… and allegedly some models.
“We have been prepping for a year for this at considerable financial, labor- and commitment-cost to our company. Our show date has been scheduled for months and has been on the Fashion Calendar for weeks. We went through all the proper channels to make this a reality,” Bowen told WWD. “Kanye knows he is a media sensation and it is just not ethical to do this. It’s like we are David and he is Goliath. We have put our heart and soul into our show, and should not be stepped on like this.”
She’s right. Every time the rapper plans a fashion show, be it a success or not, celebrities—and their followers—churn out in masses.
Beyoncé and Jay Z sat front row with Kim Kardashian and Anna Wintour at the Yezzy x Adidas debut in February. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, who are lauded for their high-end label The Row, appeared at West’s eponymous womenswear show in Paris in 2011.
His Yeezy x Adidas footwear sells out in less than an hour.
When we caught up with Bowen on Monday, she was in the midst of frantically re-organizing her show to come. Though the venue, TAO Downtown, will remain the same, the show has had to change dates (to Thursday), re-cast its models, and re-configure much of its production elements.
“You can’t compete,” she told The Daily Beast. “He is Kanye West, one of the most award-winning celebutantes of our time.”
However, West’s previous fashion endeavors have suffered mediocre reviews. When the rapper released his first women’s collection at Paris Fashion Week in 2011, The Telegraph told him to “stick to the day job.”
Even his uber simplistic collaboration with French label APC was called “the new boring” by The Guardian.
Still, the media follow where he leads, and Bowen experienced “complete panic” the moment she was notified of West’s announcement.
Not only would the press around West potentially overshadow buyers and editors seeing her streetwear pieces for the first time, but many of the models were also being pulled from her show.
“They were here at a testing, then we called to confirm them and we heard that they were being pulled,” she said. “The call time for hair and makeup was going to be the same time as ours. There was just so much wasted time and energy.”
So, in order to have “any significance,” as she explained to WWD, Bowen was forced “to move our date and time, which is a logistical nightmare, three days out from our originally scheduled time.”
As for Naeem Kahn, a spokeswoman for the label confirmed that the show is moving forward as scheduled.
“Most of the designers work though the CFDA for this very reason—to make sure that they don’t step on each other and that there aren’t any conflicts,” Bowen’s publicist, Lisa Monteleone, told The Daily Beast. “But he elected to just announce and not work through the CFDA, so there wasn’t anything they could do.”
The CFDA, or Council of Fashion Designers of America, is a nonprofit trade organization for North American fashion designers and helms a massive percent of the official fashion week participants. According to CFDA President Steven Kolb, the West or Adidas teams never notified them of their intentions.
Bowen has been designing for almost two decades, first in eveningwear and more recently in bridal gowns.
“The streetwear is something I’ve wanted to do for several years now,” she said. “We finally took a step back and were able to really put our heads together.”
The collection has “global influences, a lot of different textures and takes streetwear in a new direction that isn’t out there right now. I’ve put my thumbprint on this category. There are a lot of hard edges while reflecting a softness and femininity.”
When asked if the attention this has generated on her behalf could be beneficial now that she has secured another date and time, Bowen was quick to point out the two sides to the feedback.
“I don’t know if it helps or hurts,” she said, “because when anything happens you get reactions from the other people, too. There are a lot of his fans hating on me, and it’s really not about that. I think we moved to the best time slot from the options we had to choose from and we are going to move forward with a really solid, worthy collection. The pieces will really surprise you. And I wish him well.”