Yeezy Season 4: An Afternoon of Triumphs, and Trials, For Kanye West

Yeezy Season 4: An Afternoon of Triumphs, and Trials, For Kanye West

The designer challenged the fashion crowd, but ultimately gave us what we wanted most: a good show

The designer challenged the fashion crowd, but ultimately gave us what we wanted most: a good show

Text: Ian David Monroe

Today’s Yeezy Season 4 show felt equal parts fashion show and psychological study. Or perhaps an elaborate commentary on the zoo-like nature of fashion shows. Truthfully, it was a bit of both, but one can never know what is truly intentional. Instead, the whole shebang was an effect of forcing the tradition-loving fashion crowd out of their comfort zone. Only West seems daring enough to do it, and we're grateful for it. With each passing season, his risk turns into reward, and ultimately clout.

If Alexander Wang’s Fall 2014 show in the Brooklyn Navy Yard was too far, then this was further. As of this morning, a location for the show hadn’t even been announced, but shuttles from Midtown West were offered as a courtesy. Finally, hours before the show, the location was revealed: Yeezy Season 4 would be presented in Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. The tiny island between Manhattan and Queens is rarely ventured to, and not particularly easy to get to. It also prominently features a former Small Pox hospital.

Once on the island, attendees were kept standing in the sun with no direction and little idea of what was to follow. One locked gate was met by the next, in a labyrinth-like set of barricades. After a while, it began to feel like we were all a part of the show. Looking back into the mass of people waiting sunburnt and thirsty, presented a game of spot the fashion editor. West's irreverence for standard fashion protocol truly knows no bounds.

The Kardashians are in the house. #YeezySeason4

A photo posted by V Magazine (@vmagazine) on

Passing the final barricade and the merchandise booth, and entering into the open field of Four Freedoms Park, saw a staging that felt wholly reminiscent of the designer’s last show. Rows of women, in a gradient of skin tones, stood unshaded. Because it so closely resembled the arrangements at Seasons 1–3, many thought the show had already begun. For 30 or so minutes, the models shifted from foot to foot, sat down to take a breather, or stretched from discomfort. One girl, in the very front, even appeared to pass out, though minutes (and a bottle of water from production) later she was back on her feet.

It was here, in these moments, that the psychological experiment seemed to begin. At what point does the spectator become something more? There is something slightly macabre about watching people suffer and feeling like you aren’t in the position to help. The bystander effect was in full swing, and it became impossible not to see some form of metaphor in the events unfolding: the pains of beauty, the struggles West faced in his initial attempts at making it in the fashion crowd, the suffering of minority groups in both this industry and the country at large. The interpretations are endless.

After the Kardashian family and friends took their seat, the real show began. Models emerged from the parks tip and began walking a large triangular runway around the already present models. It was meta, as if West was saying he’s now moved to the next level. The looks started stark white and slowly faded to black with each passing ensemble. West played with silhouettes made popular by his wife, with sportswear-infused garments and hip-hugging silhouettes. Notably, there were no men to be found on the runway.

Throughout the show, it became obvious that one particular stiletto silhouette—the baggy thigh-high boot—wasn’t cut out for the runway. Towards the very end, one girl’s heel had bent so much that it was impossible to walk. As she stopped, started again, and looked around for help, you could see her anxiety building. No one wants to mess up a Kanye West show. After her third stop, Bergdorf’s Men’s Fashion Editor, Bruce Pask, leapt up from his seat to help the model off the runway. If this show was truly a psychological test, Pask aced it, proving that fashion need not always be cutthroat.

All in all, it was a spectacle, but that is exactly why everyone showed up in the first place. West may be outlandish, but he puts on an irresistible show. Most importantly, the clothes were good. They will be bought, and everyone is talking about them. The collection is irrefutably symbolic of our times, and what consumers actually want to wear. Fashion today is as much about feeling yourself as it is expressing yourself—an insight for which he will leave an imprint on the fashion world. What more could one want from a fashion show?

Kanye taking his victory lap at #YeezySeason4

A video posted by V Magazine (@vmagazine) on

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