Photo: Getty Images
The Kanye West for Adidas collection finally premiered at New York Fashion Week after all the leaks (thanks Khloe!) and teases (thanks to Kanye’s barber) and honestly, I will admit it was amazing! Let’s call a spade a spade: West may have vocal opinions that we don’t all agree with and, of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt here. In his case, he gets a bad rap because sometimes, a true artist is hard to understand. The Adidas x Kanye collection was fun, interesting and innovative for a company who’s only been known for their classic kicks. And if you don’t believe me, then trust Russell Simmons, Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna and gang who gave this man a Standing O. He delivered his interpretation of an athletic collection that I know everyone will be clamoring to wear as soon as it hits stores. And it will, as I confirmed that with an Adidas spokesperson when I was leaving his show.
Here’s how the whole event went down.
When I arrived - promptly - at 4PM, to the West Side Highway warehouse space, it was a mob scene outside (someone chalked this up to Khloe Instagramming the invite and address the day before), but yet the truly-invited crowd still had to wait 30 minutes past the start time just to get in. They were still rehearsing, we were told. And we were ok with that. This was Kanye after all, and we knew the show doesn’t start until it’s perfect. Artist rule #1. Once inside the warehouse (dark except for overhead LEDs casting just enough light for me to make it to my seat), you had to make your way by navigating through 8 rows of 5 models—very Vanessa Beecroft—standing in a square formation. Do not make them laugh, seemed to be the unspoken mandate. I sat with editors from ELLE, Interview and Details magazine and everyone wondered, was this the show? Were they just going to turn the lights on and we’d watch the models walk off? Of course not, this is Kanye! But what would be the show?
Jay Z, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Anna Wintour, Virginia Smith, and Russell Simmons front row at Kanye West’s Adidas presentation. Photo: Getty Images
Well the show - and this was a quote from an editor of a trade publication whom I sat next to - who told me, “now THIS is the real show”. And by that, he meant, the star-studded parade walking past us to take their front row seats. First, Kris Jenner came out from backstage in a short, flippy black dress and a floor-length fox fur matching the one North West wore the night before. Then Vogue’s Anna Wintour, followed by Justin Bieber, who wore a black hoodie pulled over his face (like those pictures you see of fugitives hiding their faces as they exit the courthouse). After Bieber, Rihanna made her way to the front row in an off-the-shoulder jacket and pencil skirt. Shortly after, Kim appeared in a short sweater dress with brown tights and brown boots underneath a camo parka—she was dressed just like the models—with North in her arms (in all black). And finally, Beyonce and Jay-Z arrived. Talk about a guest list!
Kanye and his models. Photo: Getty Images
Then the real show started.
We all know Kanye loves a speech, and sure enough the designer opened his show with his thoughts (mimicing a podcast) on artistry, design, and aesthetics. Here’s what he said (though you can listen to it in his own words at the bottom of this story):
“There’s a series of people who write negative comments—they joke around and say, ‘Why’s he still trying?’ If I see something, or there’s an opportunity, I’m going to go for it. I’m here to crack the pavement and make new ground—sonically and in society, culturally. We’re not always in a position that we want to be in. We’re constantly growing, we’re constantly making mistakes, we’re constantly trying to express ourselves and actualize our dreams. I want to create something better for you.
“We have been limited.
“It’s bigger than who I am, even in my presence living. It’s about, when I was on Earth, what did I do to help? I want people to think more. I want people to feel like it’s OK to create and follow what their dreams are, and not feel boxed-in. I want people to feel like awesome is possible.
“There’s a lack of creativity in every field, because people are afraid. As an artist in this world, we can do whatever we want.”
And Kanye did just that. He showed us whatever he wanted and it was great. In the Vanessa Beecroft formation were a dizzying array of camo parkas and knits, layered bodysuits and tights with shearlings and oversized sweaters, relaxed bomber jackets, new leisure suits, colorful sweats, elastic waist pants and plenty of suede ankle boots with mesh overlays for the ladies and lug sole canvas boots for the guys. And oh yeah, those sneakers that have been leaked all over Instagram. In fact, the Beibs even IG’ed his kicks the minute he ducked out.
Kylie Jenner, center, was the only member of the Kardashian/Jenner clan to be in West’s show. Photo: @fashionstargate/Instagram
During the show, however, I have to say the other shining star was Little North, who sat next to Wintour. Never the shy one in the family, she cried throughout the presentation (if you listen to the audio track below, you can hear her set the tone.) Mid show, Kim rushed her backstage, with Kris trailing behind her, while Kanye came out to calm his girls. In the midst of a crazy fashion show, it was a calming family moment. And when the lights came up, we could finally see all the models. A mix of boys and girls showed off sweatpants (like what Kanye wore at the Grammys), tights, grungy sweaters, and oversized parkas in tones of army green and Pepto Bismo pink. These were Kanye’s best moments, all set to thunderous beats—until the end, when West debuted his new song with Sia.
The Vanessa Beecroft formation in which West presented his collection for Adidas. Photo: Getty Images
Haters love to take down Kanye, but this is what his creativity looks like. Before you roll your eyes at me, consider this thought. Yes, Vanessa Beecroft’s also a great artist; she hangs at the MOMA; has created installations for the more astute art enthusiasts out there, reviewed and revered by art critics, but what is her art? The organization of formation and order? Or just simply lining everyone up in a row? Is it a bigger statement on society? I think really, all of the above. Now consider Kanye. Yes, he’s a pop culture icon, married to reality royalty but this man knows his stuff. Artists laud him as a musical genius and the sales of his albums prove that but he knows his vision. The man makes a statement and has something to say and we fault him for that? Yes, he is very vocal about this things he creates but I interpret that as caring and better he does, than not at all. In the end, his biggest fault may be that he’s too dedicated. In the end, he continues to make the fashion industry think about its craft in new ways. His premiere Adidas x Kanye show may have been a mob scene and a tough ticket to score, but in the end, who’s walking away the winner? After this show, I place my bets on Mr. West.