After a surprise announcement from the rapper on Friday, West’s ‘Yeezy Season 2’ runway show quickly became the most buzzed about (and anticipated) show of New York Fashion Week. And it almost ruined one fellow designer’s debut collection.
It was invite-only, of course—West sent out vacuumed-sealed camouflage T-shirts to select VIPs—and promised to draw in both a wide range of celebrities and the industry’s elite.
Lorde, Anna Wintour, and Drake were among the first to arrive, followed by a magnificent blur of Jenners and Kardashians: Kylie, Kendall, Khloe, Kourtney, Kim, and baby North. André Leon Talley made a rare appearance, while rappers 2 Chainz, Tyga, and King Push were also in attendance. Fellow designer Riccardo Tisci also sat front row.
Outside, a flurry of camera bulbs flashed continuously: at the celebrities, at the crowds, and at the casual pedestrians who looked more terrified than intrigued at the mayhem happening in front of Skylight Modern in West Chelsea.
“It’s insane how he [West] can generate such a storm of people,” Bryson Ramirez, a 23-year-old who “works in fashion,” told The Daily Beast as he puffed on a cigarette outside the venue. “It doesn’t even matter if what he does is gold or garbage, people will still turn out for the spectacle.”
Not only did people show up en masse for the live event, but thousands of spectators also tuned in at theaters all over the country where a live stream was playing. Fans could also join by Periscope.
Ramirez has a point. West’s fashion designing past hasn’t been the most august. His first women’s collection received rather harsh reviews when it was debuted at Paris Fashion Week in 2011.
The Guardian deemed West’s 2013 partnership with the French label APC “the new boring.”
Still, West has remained persistent in gaining respect from the fashion community.
When he debuted his Yeezy Season 1 collection at New York Fashion Week this past February, the Adidas-branded collection of streetwear and footwear received generally mediocre reviews, which was still an improvement from his previous catwalk sorties.
“I wasn’t that impressed by the first collection,” Susan Li, who was snapping photos outside of Wednesday’s show, told The Daily Beast. “Nothing was that shocking or extreme, which you expect from Kanye. There may have been like one or two good pieces.”
The clothes were widely compared to those of Alexander Wang, Margiela, Rick Owens, and Raf Simons, which are widely lauded luxury brands and “won fashion week” more because of the hype.
“It was a lineup of oversized jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, and leggings, interspersed with Vanessa Beecroft-inspired nude-colored underwear,” Connie Wang wrote from Refinery 29. “A camo parka that Kim Kardashian also wore was a highlight, and we thought the oversized backpack was a clever accessory that’ll probably make it into a healthy stack of editorials. But overall? Meh.”
Last month, West’s new Adidas sneaker line sold out less than an hour after their release.
On Wednesday, the energy outside the show was palpable. As disappointing as Kanye’s fashion endeavors have proved to be, everyone seemed to have forgotten and eagerly anticipated what was to come. They wanted to be shocked and surprised.
“Kanye has been reinventing himself for over a decade,” Parker Gaetani, who works in PR, told The Daily Beast. “Who is to say he won’t do that today?”
Once everyone was seated and the show began, things immediately seemed very familiar. The production was strikingly similar to February’s event. The crowd of 100 or so attendees were seated on opposite sides of the room, a large open space separating them.
Slowly models Luke Sabbat, Amina Blue, Kylie Jenner, and Ian Connor emerged in a variety of nude-colored outfits. Connor casually smoked a cigarette. More and more models poured in. They were tall, short, skinny, and not-so-skinny: a welcoming diversity of shapes.
The color palette of the clothes shifted to an even darker hue, but the oversized jackets, hoodies, and leggings were vaguely similar to Yeezy Season 1, just without the Adidas branding.
The models were arranged by skin tone with white, blond models sporting flesh-tone colors and darker-skinned models styled in the darks.
Both men and women wore long, oversized coats belted at the waist. Many of the pieces, which were frayed at the edges and purposefully torn and tattered, were layered three or four garments at a time.
The monochrome looks of baggy pants, tops, and coats were meticulously rolled at the sleeve, tied around waists, and had an overall militaristic—and minimalistic—attitude.
Many of the looks mirrored how West was attired himself—baggy, misshapen jersey meets tight pant. Encasing feet were army-like boots, desert boots, and Perspex heels. En masse the models looked like zombies, with a penchant for flesh-colored stockings, and raggedy sweaters.
The show was far from refreshing. Indeed, the only “fresh” thing to come out of the much-anticipated Yeezy Season 2 was a new track he threw out during the finale.
Maybe West really should stick to his day job. Or preparing that 2020 presidential bid.