At Kanye West’s last Yeezy fashion show, held in September in the middle of a New York heat wave, the models were required to stand still for hours in a dramatic display of choreography, prompting many to wilt and collapse.
The rapper-turned-designer has clearly learnt some lessons since the fiasco, which had, naturally, overshadowed any efforts that he’d made as a designer and left many editors feeling so angry that they vowed never again to enter the mysterious world of Yeezy.
On Wednesday, at New York’s Pier 59 studios, however, West stripped things right back. So far back, in fact, that it left many sitting in his pitch black set, waiting for the lights to come on, to wonder just what this lack of theatrics might be telling us.
Models including social media star Amina Blue and hijab-wearing Halima Aden, first appeared on giant screens in front of an audience that included American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, sat beside Kim Kardashian, who was wearing top-to-toe berry-coloured bodycon. The cast then emerged in real life, with many sporting slogan athleisure looks (‘Mulholland’ and ‘Lost Hills’ were emblazoned on) as well as versions of Adidas’s iconic Calabasas sweatpants, in homage to wife Kim’s California hometown.
The front row appearance was the first for Kim since she was held at gunpoint in Paris in October and the family have kept a relatively low profile since the incident. West himself checked into rehab in November, after suffering temporary psychosis and sleep deprivation, and neither of their two children, or any other members of the Kardashian clan were present at the show.
There was no epic stadium set, no politically-charged rant and no outrageous model demands (one year Kanye outlined a 20 point-ruling for those that walked in the show, including specific facial expressions and a directive on ‘no fast or slow movements’ which baffled most model agents). He kept the Season 5 audience tight and invites were sent out just two hours before show time (sweatshirts accompanied by Jackie Nickerson-lensed zines).
Possibly the most controversial thing of all, though, was that the designer didn’t even show his face. A statement of reform from the fashion world’s favourite egomaniac? Perhaps he was just saving energy for the after-party – a concert that he was said to be headlining later with fellow rapper Drake.