Kanye West launches Yeezy Season 8 revolution at French Communist Party headquarters
Kanye West's presence never goes unnoticed. And even less so when the US rapper shows up in Paris bent on redefining the conventions of a Fashion Week already featuring a whopping 70 catwalk shows on its calendar. First came a Sunday Service: a religious service accompanied by a gospel choir led by Kanye West himself, a surprise event for a select group of guests staged at the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris, on Sunday March 1. Shortly afterwards, the news was confirmed: Kanye West had come to Paris to revolutionize the Fashion Week, and would stage an unexpected event on Monday March 2, the Yeezy Season 8 show.
“The West family is pleased to invite you to a private presentation of the Yeezy Season 8 collection,” tersely recited the minimalist, surprise invitation card in grey colour. “Here is a small fragment of our home in Cody, Wyoming,” added West as a teaser for the show, the only known fact about which was that it was due to take place at the Espace Niemeyer, headquarters of the French Communist Party, at 9.30 pm. Expectations were ratcheted up, and the social media drums began to roll.
Cue the crowds that thronged to Place du Colonel Fabien, where the Espace Niemeyer is located, on Monday night. Fans, nosy parkers, neighbourhood residents and guests mingled in the elliptical square, absolutely jam-packed with the attendees’ black cars. Huge, gig-style queues and several security checks, to prevent anyone who was not on the West family’s guest list from sneaking in, encircled the venue, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The iconic building, which over the years has hosted shows by the likes of Prada, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thom Browne, was home to Yeezy’s first catwalk show in two years, the label having decided to drop its collections via lookbooks and private events after Season 5.
To the guests’ surprise, once inside the venue, they were handed blankets and heaters to keep warm prior to the start of the show, which was set to take place outside the building’s undulating, wave-like façade. Everyone in the audience, celebrities and commoners alike, had to stand in the cold Parisian night, a scene that would have amused, to say the least, Communist militants. Once again, West upended fashion's established social norms and turned on its head the notion of how, in theory at least, a catwalk show should look like.
There was no soundtrack, speech or emphasis as a model clad in beige top and white wool trousers opened the show in silence, without many in the audience even being aware it had started. She was followed by 18 different women’s looks which floated down the building’s access path, the show being also broadcast on the Espace Niemeyer’s façade. Outside, Place du Colonel Fabien reverberated with a concerto of car horns as circulation around the square was clogged. The collection’s dominant hues were white, ochre and violet blue, featured in high-rise flared trousers, mostly tucked into the tops of padded mountaineering boots. Models sporting multiple plaits wore skimpy bra-like tops and various types of crop tops, as well as t-shirts, padded vests and jackets, sometimes with ski masks to complete the outfit.
The show's punch line was the biggest surprise, and became a viral hit on countless Instagram posts. West’s 6-year-old daughter North closed the show with a rendition of ZaZa’s smash hit ‘What I Do’. The mini Kardashian West held the microphone in her hand and sang, a cross between a rap and a babble, under the watchful eye of her father, grinning happily a few steps away. No wonder: Kanye West had done it again. A show that brought the Paris Fashion Week, and even all the coronavirus talk, to a virtual standstill, thanks to a child’s performance and the subsequent attention garnered by the West-Kardashian clan. Was it satire of the fashion industry, a special kind of comedy, or boundless showbiz genius? Let the public be the judge. In the end, fashion played a bit part.
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