Why Was Kanye West Invisible at his Yeezy New York Fashion Week Show?
After the nuttiness and controversies of previous Yeezy shows, Season 5 was relatively muted—with West himself not appearing after his models had left the runway.
Hardy fashion folk, trailing to the far west side of Chelsea on Wednesday to the Pier 59 show space, could have been forgiven for having fear in their hearts.
It was that moment in New York Fashion Week again: the Kanye West Yeezy for Adidas show, traditionally a moment for pandemonium of the extremely uncomfortable and baffling kind.
A year ago, a green jacket arrived in an airtight bag to herald the Yeezy show. (I mistakenly thought it might be squashed vegetable matter of some kind.)
This year, I received another airtight package containing an oversized sweatshirt with “Mulholland” printed on it, and a zine of photographs of models wearing Yeezy clothes.
What would West cook up next to the Hudson River for Yeezy Season 5?
There was the time—Season 3—when West hired out Madison Square Garden, and made a human mountain out of models wearing his Yeezy leisurewear. And then, most notoriously, there was Season 4, when West baked and tortured fashion editors and watchers on Roosevelt Island in a show so badly organized it apparently led to some fashion editors to boycott his shows.
There were no island journeys Wednesday for Season 5, and the fact that West was showing at Pier 59 at a fixed time that did not clash with any other designers suggested that, as has been reported, he was determined to be a better-behaved designer for NYFW organizers.
Still, the sense of chaos around West and his celebrity and the Kardashians remains. At the West Side Highway, young people in probably very fashionable clothing, but looking completely ridiculous—like spotty clowns—were shoving cameras and running after other people in ridiculous clothes.
Photographers played cat and mouse with annoyed drivers who honked their horns as the idiots with lenses obstructed and witlessly caused needless danger for themselves and others.
Even for those with tickets, there were different stages of the entry process that led to new stages of the entry process. But still: You were not expiring of heat exhaustion on an island.
One should count one’s blessings, especially as West “kicked out all credentialed press moments before the presentation was set to begin,” according to E! News, perhaps taking an anti-media cue from his friend Donald Trump. Depending to your definition of luck, I had a lucky escape.
Once inside the fashion show space: darkness. You could see benches, and shapes of people. There was a floor to ceiling blacker mass in the middle of the black space. The mournful dirge that played on Roosevelt Island was back. People were using their cellphone lights to find their seats.
But the show began on time, except, initially at least, there were no models walking a conventional runway around the forbidding black obelisk in the middle of the room.
The lights went down, and suddenly on to that obelisk were projected images of the models, being beamed in from a few feet away backstage. The camera spun around them as they appeared singly, teenage-looking boys and girls, with a remix of J. Holiday’s “Bed,” performed by The Dream, playing in the background.
There were denim jackets and denim jeans, brown boots, a lumbersexual-friendly turquoise fleece with black stripes, black sweaters and jeans. A green sweater was the first item of clothing to come with the legend “Calabasas,” where the Kardashian family famously lives. The family shamelessly loves brand extension, now seemingly right down to suburban geography. Other clothing came with “Lost Hills” printed on it.
Many of the clothes in the collection were the kind of slouchy, oversized, and casual look one has come to expect, finished off with stiletto ankle boots (for women), and sneakers and work boots for men. Of the more luxe looks, a full-length fur on hijab-wearing model Halima Aden was beautiful and beautifully worn. Jogging trousers came in a maroon-ish purple, with fitted tops and striped boots.
Vogue reported that West had also introduced a new item of footwear, “the runner, which is bulkier than the original Boost 350 with a thicker sole.”
The video feed eventually stopped, and the teenage-looking models came out and did a rushed walkabout around the strange cube.
Then the lights stayed down. Was the show over? Was West himself about to appear? Apparently it was no to both, because—as all sat there wondering what to do, or if something else was about to happen—suddenly Kim Kardashian West herself suddenly stood up and ran to the door, as if alerted to some emergency only she knew about. She was wearing a beautiful purple halter neck, track pants, and ankle boots—and she wanted out of there.
We stayed sitting. Could the show be over? Was this too be part of the performance? Was she about to drag her invisible husband out?
Still we sat.
At the door Kim turned and made a motioning signal to the front row, where the distinctive bob of her seatmate, Anna Wintour of Vogue, was visible, as was Kylie Jenner, Kardashian West’s half-sister. Hailey Baldwin, La La Anthony, Tyga (Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend), Zoë Kravitz, and Teyana Taylor were also there.
Wintour, dressed in black and smiling merrily, then stood up and also hot-footed it to the door, the sight of which raised a ripple of laughter among the audience.
The show’s over when Anna says it’s over.
The show’s over when Anna runs to the exit.
At that point, everybody got up to leave.
There was no sign of West. He did not come out to bow, or show his face. His friend Malik Yusef said recently West was recovering his memory again, after his mental health tribulations of late last year. Maybe appearing in front of a large crowd was not something he felt able to do.
Backstage, West—with blond hairdo—was photographed smiling with fans and friends who posted the images to social media.
Outside the clown-children in their grating clothes and kamikaze photographers were still looking to get killed, or brainlessly kill others, in their pursuit of whatever it was they were pursuing.
And strangely, that was the only real craziness of West’s afternoon, discounting his reported exclusion of journalists, the weird darkness of the space, and his wife and Wintour’s end-of-show sprint.
There was no communal dehydration this time, no overheating models, and no puffed-chest grandstanding. Kanye West Fashion Week nuttiness is still present and correct. But this time it wasn’t directly generated by him.