Illustration by Tomiris Shyngyssova
Not content with dominating the spheres of hip-hop and award show rants, New York Fashion Week saw Kanye West debut his new Yeezy Season 2 collection. This is far from the self appointed Louis Vuitton don's first venture into fashion, he has collaborated with Nike, APC and most recently adidas.
Unlike Yeezy Season 1, the collection is not part of West's ongoing partnership with the iconic German sportswear brand but did feature the Yeezy boost trainers first seen at February's launch. Stylistically, the new collection is very similar to the previous one, distressed and oversized sweatshirts and jackets with raw hemlines still dominate. In addition, Kanye dropped the camo, in stead opting for a palette of earthy browns, nudes and camels making the new collection feel even more understated than the last. The aesthetic, however, feels just as dystopian but has a less militaristic vibe, if the London Riots inspired the first collection; Season 2 seems to chime with Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis. West chose to present the collection in a starkly lit warehouse with the models lined up like soldiers, complete with a drill sergeant barking orders at them.
The new Yeezy Boost 950 boot is star of the collection. An oversized duck boot, the Boost looks almost like a shoe designed by someone who had never seen a real foot. Kanye’s other footwear designs for Nike and Louis Vuitton have showed the same originality. But for such an independent musical style, when it comes to the clothes Kanye is not afraid to show his influences. The nude bodysuits bear a resemblance to those by Margiela that Kim is so fond of, and the dystopian nature is indebted to recent Helmut Lang collections. This appropriation isn’t necessarily a bad thing but is slightly disappointing. In a recent interview with Zane Lowe, Kanye claimed ‘I didn’t come here to be liked, I came here to make a difference.’ With Yeezy Season 2, he seems to have forgotten this. The collection does show us that Kanye has a good taste but strongly lacks originality.
Season 2 is only his second collection, and his first lone, non-collaborative effort, but it does seem to undermine his role as pop culture’s resident provocateur. Should we take Kanye seriously as a fashion designer? Conceivably he is yet to really develop his own voice and the collections feels more like Kanye curating his favourite influences than producing anything new, but as the footwear shows he might not be far off designing something of real impact.