Kanye West, who has stood on many a soap box, has managed to break through the fashion world. Last year, the presentation of Yeezy Season 1 at New York Fashion Week for the fall/winter season featured an array of “oversized jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, and leggings, interspersed with Vanessa Beecroft inspired nude underwear.”; and so far it seems that this is the only look we will be seeing from the fashion mogul.
Yeezy Season 2 sported a similar pattern of monochromatic oversized hoodies, dusters, parkas, baggy sweatpants and shorts in distressed, over-dyed fabrics partnered with “nude bodysuits, leggings and bras”. The fact that the main silouhette for the streetwear army outfits which were styled in many layers was not only contexualized by the staging of the fashion show, but may be contexualized by hip-hop culture in that every hip-hop brand from the legendary thread of Pharrell, Jay-Z or Diddy to the has-been popularity of FUBU and other brands alike have used the known as a form of shackled lines that seem unbreakable. What Yeezy has managed to do is perpetuate the black stereotype of thieves and thugs into a more complex riddle of illustrated poverty, an epidemic well known to people of color across the world (although this may be contradicted by the vast differences in his casting). Critique of the Yeezy line has been proportioned to a design of ‘new slaves’ as his 2013 song so aptly described it.
Despite critique, Kanye West has made an impact in the fashion world, drawing interest from true fashion moguls like Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour as well as every possible celebrity you can think of. “West is a fact of fashion life. He’s not going away, and no-one counting page views or sneaker sales can complain.” Kanye’s inability to become Houdini may be attributed to his status in both the creative and entertainment worlds alike. It would be a sin to ‘Yeezus’ himself to not give good credit where it is due, to move from various fields of design and creative with arrogant grace. Collectively the pieces he has created do unfortunately read like a bad horror story of a hobo being bit by a cast member from The Walking Dead walking an unfortunate path of 40 days and 40 nights. Individually the pieces have an edge of experimentation and appeal to all the hippie/vintage lovers walking around in used mortocian good-will donations (I am a victim). Fact is, as per usual, he has the whole world talking and social media is still struggling to mop up the drool- be it from shock or admiration or even boredom from the mute palette he has stuck to. Understanding the generation of the disease of consumerism that he has so fiercely protested in a number of interviews, he is milking the obvious fact that all your friends would be jealous if you told them the pantyhose you got from Woolies was a Yeezus original and, as Jaden Smith has so poignantly phrased it through the wisdom of Papa Smith, you have to understand the system to beat it. And Mr West is killing us at every angle.