For someone married to Kim Kardashian, Kanye West is surprisingly antipress. But Thursday night had all the makings for the rising of Yeezus. The cause was certainly right — Alicia Keys’ annual Keep a Child Alive Black Ball, which raises funds for children and families with HIV/AIDS in Africa. And the evening’s sole honoree happened to be one of West’s besties: Riccardo Tisci.
Before the event even began, the red carpet at the Hammerstein Ballroom was filled with buzzy names, including a pregnant Keys and husband Swizz Beatz, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Estelle, Gayle King, Lala Anthony, Alek Wek and Russell Simmons, all out to support the charity and Tisci.
This story first appeared in the November 3, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I’m a longtime fan of the brand, and he’s taken it to an edgy, lovely, dark, romantic place,” said Padma Lakshmi. “And I don’t know if people talk about this, but his prices are slightly lower. I think he’s been very masterful about that.”
The man of the hour, flanked by Joan Smalls and Marina Abramovic, brought up the rear of the carpet.
“It’s very stressful and shocking,” he said of the award. “But I’m very grateful that Alicia decided to do this. She’s an amazing woman, she’s an amazing artist, and she’s an amazing mother, but she’s not selfish.” Tisci noted he was in town for just five days, but had his Friday night plans mapped out: “Halloween. I’m going to be a priest… a naughty priest.”
The evening’s emcees, Beatz and Combs, wisely started the event with a bang, bringing West on stage, where he sheepishly smiled from the sidelines while the hosts tested their best Abbott & Costello routine.
Before the main act — performances by Keys, Nas, Angel Haze and David Byrne — many chose to rubberneck around Tisci’s table. West was all smiles, indulging in a number of fan photos, though he consistently dropped the smile once the shutter snapped — hey, got to stay on brand (to that point, he did, in fact, refuse to speak with the press). His date for the evening, Scott Disick, also chose not to talk, despite having a new spin-off of the Kardashians’ to promote. “Women’s Wear Daily? That’s not me. Congratulations, but that’s not me,” he said, clinking the ice in his empty drink.
Unexpectedly, a supernova of the entertainment business quietly slipped in at the last minute and was now snapping selfies with Tisci: Madonna was in the house. “I’m here to see all the performances. And also I love Alicia’s charity,” said the singer, who shares with Keys a manager, Guy Oseary.
It was indeed Her Madgesty who appeared to be having the most fun once the musicians took the stage — she sang along, she swayed, she paused only momentarily to chat with West, who himself received honorable mention for most-enthusiastic audience member, grinning widely as he recorded videos of Nas and Combs performing together.
By the time Byrne took the stage alongside Keys to perform “Burning Down the House,” the entire ballroom was on their feet and looking entirely in their element: Madonna dancing, West smiling, Tisci mingling, and Lord Disick, alone in the corner, puffing on a cigarette.