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. Given him permission to stage stunts like the one he pulled Wednesday for Yeezy Season 4, for which he withheld basic logistical information, such as the show’s location — Roosevelt Island — until 12 hours before the 3 p.m. show. Shuttle buses were arranged as a “courtesy,” departing against all logic from one of the furthest points west in Manhattan to slog crosstown to an island in the East River. Round-trip, the event clocked in at about four-and-a-half hours. This is behavior that would not be tolerated from true design visionaries — Karl Lagerfeld or West’s friend Riccardo Tisci. Not that they would display such audacious disrespect for people’s time — nor would their employers allow it. In 2007, there was nearly a bounty on Marc Jacobs’ head when he made his audience wait two hours. Yet West will likely be rewarded with splashy coverage and maybe even applause for a collection that was at best predictable. Adidas should be embarrassed.
Whatever political or cultural statement West was trying to make by casting only black models for his show and staging it on the lawn in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park — dedicated to freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear — rang hollow. Once again, the anchor for the show was a “performance” by Vanessa Beecroft, which entailed a horde of models wearing what could pass for Spanx in a military formation. Beecroft has a long history as fashion artist for hire, predating West, and all of her stuff looks the same. It’s almost surprising West, who is quick to congratulate his own creativity, continues to rely on something that’s become a bore. The whole collection, which finally walked on a runway around the periphery of the Beecroft/Spanx gals close to 4:30 p.m., clung to unoriginal territory: oversize hoodies, parkas, T-shirts, bra tops and tight-knit tank dresses in pale colors, mostly worn with over-the-knee boots.
Shown in a mildly traditional venue that required less of a commute — not to mention a near two-hour wait in the summer heat further exacerbated by aggressive and aggressively disorganized security and front-of-house staff — the collection would’ve been a drop in the bucket. But given the extenuating circumstances it felt crude and curdled, with twisted titillation delivered in the form of cringe-worthy mishaps: When some of the models fainted, there was no medical attention or staff intervention. Rather, other models fetched them water and they stayed put. Some of the boots were so ill-fitting, they looked like they might snap the models’ ankles. In one truly desperate case, a model, sweating under a black hooded coat, was so hobbled by her boots, Bruce Pask of Bergdorf Goodman escorted her down the runway. “We had no idea what we were going to be doing,” said Ciarda Hall, one of the models who stood in the Beecroftian formation for the duration of the show and witnessed more than one of her peers faint. “But the show must go on.”
Someone make it stop.