As the Fashion Weeks continue and all the photographs and reports come in thick and fact, it was nice to read an interview that was relaxed, considered and quiet. What was surprising was that it came from Kanye West as he discussed his new collection, Yeezy Season 2.
He was interviewed in Vanity Fair and it was, naturally, a little bit peppered with his typically outlandish statements. But mostly it was quiet and considered, and a very different take on Fashion Week. It is clear that Kanye hasn’t had the fashion calendar drilled into them from a young age. He readily acknowledges his inability to create intense, dramatic collections season after season. Instead he brings an outsider perspective, and a different energy. He also brings a host of fascinating influences, which include the apartments of architect Claudio Silvestrin, the Gap and, quite wonderfully, the flower garden of Belgian designer Dries van Noten.
The result of this is that Kanye has produced an understated and thoughtful collection that’s underscored by a studied reverence for everyday objects. The collection is defined by loose silhouettes combined with skintight bodysuits, all in muted palettes. When asked what the reasoning is behind this he says, “I think people just wear yoga pants and sweatshirts, and I wanted to make the most beautiful versions of that possible.”
Being so used to the grander designs of the top designers, it’s almost startling to see someone tinkering with basics like that. But in a discussion about sneakers Kanye talks about something quite revealing, but also quite fascinating: He’s trying to create the iconic version of commonplace things. How do you design something like the Eames Chair, or the Rolex Submariner? How do you find the perfect formula to create the iconic version of a familiar object, an object that has so many variations? It’s an interesting mission, and the mission may be more interesting than the result, a prospect he seems quite content with.
Following on from this, in between talking about running for president and his obsession with the Gap, he talks about the sweatshirt and how it’s an object that we should pay more attention to. He says, “Sweatshirts are fucking important.” This really reveals how fascinated he is by the simple things. He sees enough beauty and importance in a sweatshirt that he doesn’t need to make statement dresses, and that injects such a different thought process into Fashion Week.
It must be said that, in showing this collection, he employed an incredibly diverse group of models. Diversity among the models at Fashion Week is, as we know, not very common, and this is another real benefit of having an outsider put their own show on.
Now, Kanye is still Kanye and the actual showing of the collection was big and intense. He showcased a version of a new song from his long-awaited next album. He had lots of lights and lots of models and it was all very show-y. But he also had a real, genuine Fashion Week innovation. Kanye’s was the first ever catwalk show that was live streamed to cinemas. Referring back to Christian Dior, who introduced music to the catwalk, Kanye is the first designer to ever debut a collection which live streamed to over 40 cinema screens across the US.
If live streaming fashion shows does catch on there will of course be a little bit of mystery lost, but it could also be a truly democratising trend, allowing people who love fashion but are not in the industry’s inner circles access to the grand visions of the world’s greatest designers.
For all his outbursts, Kanye West turns out to be a thoughtful and innovative designer. Lets hope for more of this newfound quietness from him, without losing any of that touch for innovation.
Read the full interview here.