It’s no secret that Kanye West and his family have had a weird and rough few months.
In October, his wife, Kim Kardashian West, was robbed at gunpoint in Paris. In November, West endorsed Donald Trump (“if I would’ve voted, I would’ve voted for Trump,” he told booing fans during his Saint Pablo tour); soon afterwards he had a breakdown and was hospitalised; after that West and Trump met for a cringe-making photo opp at Trump Tower. Later, during the furore over Trump’s executive order, West deleted every tweet mentioning the president from his timeline, while reports circulated that he was still regaining his memory after his illness.
It seems amazing that West would have the bandwidth to produce a fashion show in addition to all that, but produce one he did. In fact, Yeezy presentation was a much smoother affair than last season’s show, during which models fainted and editors grew disgruntled while waiting for hours in the searing September heat.
This time the show took place in a darkened studio on Pier 59, and started just 25 minutes late, which in Fashion Time is basically early.
It began with large projections of videos of models wearing clothes that were far broader in scope than the usual dusty, apocalyptic Yeezy streetwear: light washed denim worn with camel-coloured boots that brought to mind suburban malls, teal-coloured hoodies, sweaters and cardigans with Calabasas – a reference to the Californian suburb in which West and his family live – emblazoned across the back.
There was camouflage military wear, too, with oversized parkas and shearling coats and tracksuits worn tucked into thigh-high boots that more closely echoed the look of previous Yeezy collections.
Trainer-heads have been speculating for months about the Yeezy range’s new “runner shape” shoe – a traditional spongy design that looks more 1990s gym than the brand’s more famous Star Wars-esque designs – which appeared here in black and burgundy.
The model casting certainly did not represent a Trump-friendly isolationist America. It included the catwalk debut of featured Halima Aden, a Somali-American who wears a hijab and was born in a Kenyan refugee camp. Aden made headlines last year when she wore a hijab and a burkini while competing in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant. In today’s show she wore an outfit that might undermine the positive message for many people, if it was as real as it looked: a floor-length fur coat.
West has had a tumultuous time while trying to make it as a fashion designer, running the gamut from critical ridicule for his first collection in 2011 to huge commercial success working with Adidas on the Yeezy. Never one to quit while he is ahead, last season’s ramshackle show undermined much of his hard work, with many editors swearing off ever attending a Yeezy show again – and that was even before he enraged the liberal industry by endorsing Trump.
But then a funny thing happened at the end of the show. Expecting fireworks, or at least a Kanye West bow, when the last models filed off, the audience members stayed patiently, expecting an encore. Eventually they got one: Kim ran across the catwalk in heels, beckoning to Anna Wintour, who beamed as she quickly sprinted afterwards. For the fashion industry, that’s quite the endorsement.