Unless you live under a rock, you have surely heard of Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 fashion show and album drop. It seemed like everyone was livestreaming it during class, work and everywhere in between. This spectacle has dazzled many, but those of the fashion world might not feel the same way.
Thousands dropped everything to wait outside of Madison Square Garden for the release of Life of Pablo and Season 3. Karlie Kloss, Anna Wintour, Gigi and Bella Hadid and Oliver Rousteing sat in the front rows gazing at the draped mound that concealed many models and extras for the show. The extended Kardashian-West-Jenner family dressed to the nines in Balmain fluffery, embelishments and Yeezus sweaters.
The actual Kanye line was much like his other collections, featuring tattered post-apocalyptic athleisure wear only with more reds and oranges. Naomi Campbell, Veronica Webb and Liya Kebede appeared in the massive crowd of extras and models on Kanye’s stage. As the show went on, the models stood while the crowd danced, sang and bobbed their heads to Life of Pablo. After the show/album release Kanye thanked his fans. After the show, those same fans blasted media with a resounding admiration for the line and Kanye’s album, but many in the fashion industry responded sourly.
Many regarded the Yeezy Season 3 show as a promotional stunt for Kanye’s album. NY Times claimed the fashion was just a “back drop” behind Kanye’s “Big Idea,” in which the music was the main focus. InStyle’s fashion news director Eric Wilson regarded the spectacle as really three shows: the record release, the fashion presentation and the exhibition of celebrities and the Kardashian-West-Jenner trifecta.
“It was difficult to focus on the collection,” Fashionista stated. Similar to the NY Times, the publication said the clothing was just “background noise.” Fashionista goes on to say Kanye’s show was simply an “album release party, and a great one at that. When [the audience] gets home, they’ll probably have forgotten about the Yeezy Season 3 presentation, but the beats will be lingering in their brains.”
Man Repeller founder Leandre Medine agreed, saying she couldn’t remember what the clothes even looked like but she could tell you “that Kim Kardashian is blonde again.” She then goes on to say, “I like Kanye West. I think he’s smart and his music is strong and he’s the most sincere fashion fan I’ve encountered.” Yet she was not sure if Man Repeller should have even covered the event because they are “not a music blog.”
With all the criticism from Kanye’s show, many expected Rihanna’s Fenty X Puma collection would receive the same reaction. Yet, that was not the case. Much awe came from reporters, fashion critics and bloggers about the gothic sport culture and street fashion inspired collection. Several media outlets including Fashionista.com expected the artist’s new album “Anti” to be the sole soundtrack of the runway, but it simply was not.
Vogue jabbed at Kanye’s overzealous show in their review of Rihanna’s collection by stating it “was a relatively subdued and intimate affair. There was no art installation, no cast of thousands.”
In an interview with WWD, Rihanna stated, “I wanted people to want the product in a sincere way, not just because it’s a celebrity product but because they genuinely love it.” Kanye seemed to be take opposite approach. The show endorsed his family and, well, Kanye.
The promotional aspect of Kanye’s show has the industry on the edge, questioning how the runway has transformed. The Season 3 showcase may not be a runway show in the traditional sense, and that seems to frighten the industry. With the loom of fast-fashion stores waiting to knock off designer creations, Fashion Week hangs in the balance of commercialized sabotage.
Perhaps Kanye is introducing the future of fashion, a combination of pop culture and clothes, and this is the new way for fashion to evolve and survive. For now the industry will awe at models walking down runways in front of crowds, iPhones and cameras—and shun anything new.