Love him or hate him, Kanye West is a man that commands attention. From his announcement at the recent VMA’s that he is running for president in 2020 to naming his daughter after a point on a compass. His latest controversy, has come in the form of his last minute scheduled collection, Yeezy II, at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW). In turn upsetting a lot of fashion designers in the process. It asks the question, “Can fashion ever blend seamlessly with celebrity culture, or will it always feature the celebrity at the forefront?”
Many celebrities have tried to break into the fashion industry as designers. Some successfully, where others have not. Jennifer Lopez’s Sweetface and Beyoncé Knowles’ support in the House of Deréon line, among the unsuccessful. Instead of gaining popularity they did not make the transition to high-end. Their celebrity status was seen as a cheap tacky ploy to hike up the retail prices (Fury 2015). Following the controversy Kanye West has created with the release of Yeezy II at the NYFW, his future as a successful fashion designer doesn’t look promising.
“Kanye’s fashion show stuff looks like future Slave gear to me… Just sayin” – Ice-T
Kanye West’s collection, Yeezy II, has received a lot of attention from critics. Especially within social media, with fashion bloggers and the public comparing the collection to costumes from the ‘Walking Dead’ (T.V. series) and the clothing of homeless people. With the overly baggy shirts and jackets covered in ripped tears and holes, its not hard to see where they’re coming from. Homeless chic, grunge and deconstructed fashion is not a new concept to the fashion scene however. Controversy has risen with Ice-T accusing Kanye West of racism. “Kanye’s fashion show stuff looks like future Slave gear to me… Just sayin” (Baillie 2015). Kanye West is also reported to have organised his models on the runway in terms of their skin colour (Baillie 2015).
Despite all the media backlash and controversy, Kanye West’s collection was one of the most diverse, in terms of the models chosen to feature his clothing line (Baillie 2015). Unfortunately Kanye West’s star image; the qualities, ideals and values of his controversial position in the media overshadowed his performance at the NYFW. Whether his aspiration to transition into a fashion designer ever becomes a reality.. well that’s up to the future!
Alexander Fury, “Victoria Beckham exclusive interview: A canny creative director who finally feels comfortable in her own skin.” The Independent, February 17, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/victoria-beckham-on-the-secret-of-her-fashion-success-a-canny-creative-director-who-finally-feels-comfortable-in-her-own-skin-10050242.html
Dr. Jess Berry, “Fashion and Celebrity culture: Lecture 7,” 2432QCA: Contemporary Fashion (Brisbane, Griffith Queensland College of Art, September 7, 2015) Lecture notes.
Katie Baillie, “Ice-T starts ‘future slave gear’ racism row as Kanye admits arranging models by skin colour” Metro News, September 19, 2015, http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/19/ice-t-starts-future-slave-gear-racism-row-as-kanye-admits-arranging-models-by-skin-colour-5399040/