I am a few days late and several dollars short on this one, but I can’t help but throw my opinion out on the Yeezy Season 4 fashion show, and everything it represented.
First of all, for those who don’t follow this type of thing, ( kudos to you for that!) Kanye West showed his Yeezy Season 4 collection last Wednesday, the first day of New York Fashion Week.
Although the clothes have been critically panned since the inception of Kanye-as-fashion designer a few years ago, the hype surrounding his shows is palpable. Last season’s spectacle at Madison Square Garden, where he debuted his much anticipated new album while having his stable of “not models” dressed in his latest collection standing on the stage was one of the most talked about shows of the season.
If we step away from the clothes for a moment, we can dwell on this season’s show itself, summing up much that is wrong with the (fashion) world in the process.
Kanye refuses to work with the fashion calendar, which painstakingly documents all of the shows, avoiding overlaps, or impossible transitions, especially for the big players. The newbies generally show at the beginning of the week. When Kanye blows through and announces his shows at the last minute, when they suit him, not the schedule, he negates the possibility of anyone with clout showing up for the newcomers premier shows, which occur at the same time. His shows are spectacles. One does not book the Garden the night before and coordinate a full on show | album release over night. He does this because he can, and that is terribly wrong on many levels. Adidas, who funds the collection, is also at fault, for allowing this disrespectful behavior to happen. The chairman of Adidas was quoted last year, stating that he would rather the company be polarizing than boring. Enter Kanye West, the master of polarizing, to save the day.
This season, he sent out the invitiations at the last minute and did not announce the location until the morning of the show. Editors, buyers and fashion press all flocked to the extreme west side at 1:30 sharp, to board busses to take them to Roosevelt Island, a spot in the East River that is not easily accessible. After being caught in horrendous traffic for 1 1/2 hours, the busses finally arrived at the island. The entire trip was well documented on social media, as the fashion flock complained of traffic, lack of water and snacks and the general horrors of riding a bus. Once there, they were subjected to being held in a waiting area in the blazing sun. The 3:00 show was rescheduled to 4:00, leaving everyone waiting even longer than anticipated. NO worries though: although there still was no water offered, there was in fact MERCH! An array of $75 tee shirts marking the occasion. The actual show began closer to 4:30, with a large group of “civilian” models standing in formation, a la Vanessa Beecroft style yet again. At least they started out that way. A few slumped to the ground, and at least one passed out. Nobody from Team Yeezy did anything about it. The clothes, once again looked like Spanx, in varying shades of nude. The audience sat wriggling in discomfort, virtually held hostage to the scene. A few enterprising editors hoofed it to the tram, or an area where waiting Ubers could pick them up for the rush hour trek back to the city. Was this all part of West’s master plan? He essentially highjacked fashion week, took the cream of the fashion crop out to a remote location, and forced them to sit in the hot sun, watching scantilly clad young women suffer to stay standing? Was this yet another turn on dystopian fiction, ala the Hunger Games or Divergent? While the fashion world disses his talent on the design front, who else could have pulled off a caper like this? Even half the Kardashians opted out of this debacle.
Later, he sent a group of well known models down the runway, bundled up in heavy outerwear, and thigh high boots, most of which were losing their heels. One model teetered to the point that one of the guests jumped up to help her walk. Another simply stopped mid- saunter and pulled hers off.
Commentary on the show blew up the Twitterverse, Snapchat and Instagram. None of it was positive. Those who didn’t make the trek were able to watch it unfold on Tidal, and a few other live streams. It was horrifying. Every publication and blog had a story on it the next morning.
As Stella Bugbee from New York Magazine’ s The Cut put it, the best thing everyone could do would be to not write about it. Yet she, and all of her colleagues did. Who really won here? Certainly not the press, the models or the public. Kanye, however, was the most talked about show of the current season. Whoever said all press is good press might be onto something.
The part that sickens me the most, is the sense of entitlement that comes with being so very entitled. With literally no regard for the comfort or treatment of his models or of his guests, he not only fed his ego by watching everyone suffer for his “art,” he also took away the opportunity to be seen from a group of young designers who have worked so hard for their craft, and struggled to get to the point that could show at fashion week. The money spent of showing to an empty room, might be the end for some of these start ups. How dare Kanye for so blithely stealing their moment, but more importantly, how dare the fashion squad for allowing him to.
While writers are criticizing him for his poorly exectuted show, bad treatment of models, and a rerun of the same items from past seasons that they panned the first time, we all know come February they will get sucked in to doing it again.
As one writer at Women’s Wear Daily summed it best,“This has become an abusive relationship. To a great extent, fashion and the press have only ourselves to blame. We’ve been world-class enablers of Kanye West, allowing him to put us at his mercy.”
The only way to stop this behavior is to boycott it. Next season, put your FOMO aside, and when that invite arrives at the last minute, JUST. SAY. NO.