The Legitimacy of Kanye as a Fashion DesignerKanye featured his second collection this fall in NY. But the press has been rather silent. Does this mean Kanye isn’t considered a professional designer, or that he is?
In today’s global sphere, celebrities cross over to new professions with ease. Models become movie stars, movie stars become singers, and now, rappers are becoming fashion designers. Yes, of course we’re referring to Kanye West. The 38-year-old rapper featured his YEEZY Collection Season 2 sponsored by Adidas at New York Fashion Week 2015 . This seasons show was a collaboration with artist Vanessa Beecroft. The Kardashian clan was featured on the front row, and Kylie could be found amongst the runway models of her brother in law’s second fashion show. Last season, the show was the most viewed collection on Style.com and generated millions of hashtags and tweets. The collection vanished from shop floors. It’s safe to say Season 1 was a very successful collection.
Kanye’s debut featured brown oversized wear, not very different to the newly released collection. The second collection features very neutral washed out clothing. If you want a dark olive sweatshirt, or sand-coloured snow boot, look no further. The pieces lean towards more wearable pret-a-porter featured on the runway, than some designers runway collections. It is a collection that has brought on a mix of emotions, but no one described it better than Jo Ellison at the Financial Times, referring to the collection as “Desert Storm meets Spanx”. This isn’t necessarily criticism, but it sure hit the nail on the head.
Looking at the Yeezy collection for SS16 with puckered seams and wavy zippers, a question began to form about how to evaluate the construction techniques of a collection. The puckered seams and wavy zipper tapes seem to be the result of putting the garments through wash cycles and treatments, potentially at high temperatures, where all of the components have shrunk at different rates. This can be considered a way to test the credibility of Mr. West as a designer. Does he know what he’s doing? Was it on purpose? Plenty of other designers go through a stage damaging clothing in order for it to look worn out, but the question is whether Kanye took it too far, and if he’s credible enough as a designer to do so.
Interviews surrounding the collection suggest that the colour palette was a reflection on the variety of human skin tones, played out through the soft muted tones of the colour palette. But the Yeezy collection does not end at the clothes, things Kanye does or says rarely end at what meets the eye. The models of the collection were aligned according to their race. The whiter the model, the closer to the front row wearing beige clothing. The darker the models were placed in the back wearing dark clothes. The models stood silently in a grid formation. All except Ian Connor didn’t stand still, and was smoking a cigarette. Kanye’s political play on fashion, is undoubtedly very clever. But it’s not very Kanye of him. In a true Yeezy fashion, rapper West would have yelled, or said something inappropriate. But this was not seen. Although his political message was loud and clear, it was in no way tasteless. In fact, it was pretty tasty. Perhaps this is why the press has left Kanye alone.
The rapper seems to take on a different, or rather, a more subtle persona as a fashion designer. As a rapper the man is all over the place. He does vocalize statements others are too scared to, but at times it is tasteless and unlikeable. I hope some of his ideas and opinions are lost in translation during the shows and creations, as this would make him a more authentic designer. Placing emphasis on the clothes instead of himself, will undoubtedly result in a better view upon him as a designer, and not a celebrity.
Getting back to Kanye as a designer, it may be possible that the lack of press is due to an admiration and respect for him as a fashion designer. He is not being treated like Kanye, the rapper, the walking controversy, the celebrity. Kanye is a designer and should be treated with the same press features and attitude as any other. He seemed to feel very upset with this, claiming that it was only because he was a straight man in the fashion industry. But what if it is because he is actually good, because his creations make us see him as a designer, and not a rapper.
The lack of press therefore makes him credible as a designer, a legitimate creator and fashion icon. The event had all the relevant factors to become the most talked about show. But it wasn’t. Vivienne Westwood and Chanel were both more relevant and exiting. One protested austerity and the other created an extravagant airport as if he were playing house at the airport with adults. Let’s hope Kanye sticks to designing and doesn’t move onto becoming the president in 2020.