So...what do we make of Yeezy Season 3?


I would’ve begun this post with ‘In case you missed it…’, but of course you didn’t. It would’ve been impossible to miss the news of Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 show at New York Fashion Week, launched concurrently with his new album to a sold-out spectacle in Madison Square Garden. It was equal parts chaotic and wondrous. Which gives rise to a slight concern: do we call this a shit show, or not? Here’s a rundown of what you might be thinking and what you need to know.

Some questions we all have...
Yeezy Season 3 has been nothing short of confusing. It’s like everyone has approached it with equivocal wonder and bewilderment, and you feel some empathy for the thoughts you can hear reverberating off their minds - so does this induct Kanye into the revered realm of fashion design, or are his clothes really plain terrible? Would the world have been quicker to write it off as a superfluous and blasphemous euphemism for fashion, had it not been Kanye but an under-the-radar designer presenting this collection? Or, if we go along the lines of thinking that fashion--like art--is what you make of it - would they have labelled the clothes as a stroke of genius if this had been presented by someone with better design credentials? 

If we assess the show in its entirety, fashion ends up being the last thing on our minds. 
There's not much that can be said about the collection save for merciless adjectives like underwhelming and overdone. But if you’ve noticed - no one’s really assessing the show for the clothes, because in the grand scheme of things the clothes are nothing more than an accessory for the whole performance. This was the first time a open-to-public fashion show has been held on such a scale, and in tandem with the release of The Life of Pablo too. And the setting! Engineered to symbolically mimic a Rwandan refugee camp, it all served as a highly-sensitive and racially-charged address of the Kibeho massacre. Except Mr. West didn’t seem to have any profound purpose for referencing this other than the shock factor.

Misappropriating the site of a massacre as the backdrop to a Madison Square Garden-shaped black hole of greed for attention? Not cool. The notions of white supremacy and racial command chains were addressed moderately at the launch of Yeezy Season 2, but this time around the social commentary didn’t really exist, and whatever shreds of it were put on display simply fell flat on its face.

So why are we all so fascinated with it? We've always watched Kanye from the sidelines with a particular keenness for schadenfreude, expecting any minute that he would come undone spectacularly. Which he has of course, whether its the 2009 VMA’s or the Wiz Khalifa Twitter showdown. There is some method to the madness, but even more madness to the method. The actual clothes from Yeezy Season 3 seemed almost destined to suck, and perhaps that explains our mild fascination with it in spite of the lacklustre showing. But the guy is smart, and there are things he deserves credit for. Which brings me to my next point...

But we can call it for what it is - a performance.
Yeezy Season 3 isn't really fashion the way we know fashion. Neither was the launch a fashion show per se. But that’s because Kanye is a performer. To put things into context he did an excellent job of using his fashion line to communicate his creative vision. It was an extravaganza that had enough clout to disrupt the Fashion Week rhythm, and brought together music and fashion on a stage that’s usually reserved for legendary musicians. And I’m sure the 20,000 people who paid for a ticket to that night got exactly what they paid for - a performance.  

So is Yeezy Season 3 any good? Yes, but not really...
It wasn’t about the clothes, because how is one supposed to feel about a cargo load of unforgivingly tight garments that don’t make the slightest attempt to reinvent the use of fabric in any visceral sense? It’s not like anyone can actually wear anything in this lineup if they have a percentage of body fat that’s above 0.5, given every piece has the adhesiveness of cling film and virtually no detail to distract from any naturally occurring bulge.

But the show is one of the ways in which Kanye is once again pushing boundaries with his work. What his show was was essentially a memorable exploration of how fashion, like music, can be a conduit for starting cultural conversations with a mass audience. Plus, it made great fodder for watercooler talk. The whole performance in itself did its job to entertain the people, and it did so well. They came, they saw, and they generated enough chatter about the event to assuage his need for attention. That’s all very Kanye, and that’s what we paid attention to Yeezy Season 3 for, isn’t it?

*Images from Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair

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  1. I'm glad that you have put this much thought into this fashion show babe. I watched it for a couple of minutes and then I got bored.


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