No one was expecting an exercise in basic ath-leisure from the creative fusion of the two megabrands that are Kanye West and Adidas. Yeezy Season 1, men’s and women’s, was presented as a performance art piece in collaboration with Vanessa Beecroft, with whom West has worked for eight years. There was intentional surrealism to the staging, a military formation of models who looked cast from the streets, but the unintentional was more memorable. Some of it irritated, like asking half the audience to wait outside on the wind-whipped West Side Highway for a half hour past the 4 p.m. start time. Some of it was highly entertaining. How fun to watch the most famous people in the world take their seats in the darkened room, identifying them by their familiar silhouettes: Beyoncé’s cheekbones and sleek new weave, Khloe Kardashian’s bombastic rear end, Rihanna’s button nose, Kim Kardashian’s petite bombshell frame. And then having their security guards obscure the view. Around 4:40 p.m. a baby started crying. “That’s baby speak for ‘Daddy, what the f–k?,’” said one editor, interpreting the whimpers of little North West, who eventually had to be taken backstage midshow by her mother and grandmother. At one point, a man delivered a beverage to Sean “Diddy” Combs in the front row. Garçon!
Kanye is perpetually running defense, clearly still wounded by the criticism directed at his previous design endeavors. “There is a series of people who write just negative comments,” he said on a recording of a philosophical soliloquy that opened the show. “They want to joke around and say, ‘Why is he still trying?’”
Give us some credit, Kanye. The collection wasn’t bad at all. More than a little apocalyptic in style, the models wore nude body stockings — a very Beecroftian effect — layered with sports bras, tanks, something that looked like a bulletproof vest, bomber jackets, a shearling coat, relaxed T-shirts and sweatpants, all mostly in a somber palette. It was edgy and androgynous. There were backpacks and oversize leather duffels. There were sneakers and sneaker boots and high-heel versions that looked encased in stockings. West said everything will be for sale.
Backstage after the show, West said the collection was inspired by the London riots of 2011 that were going on when he was working on his fashion collection. “I wanted to have an army of kids,” he said. He already has the troops. They were lined up around the block of the Adidas store on lower Broadway Thursday morning for the chance to get tickets to that evening’s free Roc City Classics concert, featuring West, in Flatiron Plaza.
The soundtrack went on: “I want to create something better for you. We have been limited. It’s bigger than who I am even in my present living. It’s about what when I was on earth what did I do to help?”
Sweatpants and music aren’t such a bad legacy.