NYFW Review: Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 Fall 2016 Ready-To-Wear; He’s Still Struggling As A “Fashion Designer”

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Last Thursday (February 11), music artist turned fashion designer Kanye West presented his Yeezy Season 3 collection and premiered his new album, The Life Of Pablo. Around 18,000 screaming fans, editors, journalists, photographers, designers, fashionistas and fashionistos flocked to Madison Square Garden to see West‘s presentation and to hear his new project first.

I personally applaud West for being the first rapper to ever sell-out MSG during a show at New York Fashion Week. The only other person that I know who sold out a music venue during New York Fashion Week was Kimora Lee Simmons. The fashion mogul sold out Radio City Music Hall various times.

West‘s show was in collaboration with performance artist Vanessa Beecroft. Special guests included Jay Z, the Kardashian/Jenner clan, Lamar Odom, Lil Kim, Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, and more.

Noticeable models who walked in the show were Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede, and Veronica Webb. They appeared in bodysuits and full-length furs.

Musically, West is one of the greatest rappers ever, or some would say he’s a “genius“. He won BET Awards, MTV Awards and Grammy Awards. However, West struggled in the fashion industry for years. Even though West has been tapped as a source of inspiration and hired for brand campaigns, he still hasn’t been accepted by mainstream people in the fashion realm, earned his credits in the fashion industry or reached superstar status as a fashion designer. Basically, he’s having a difficult time gaining credibility within the design realm and he failed over and over as a designer.

In 2005, West announced that he would release his Pastelle Clothing line in spring 2006. The line was developed over the following four years – with multiple pieces teased by West himself – before the line was ultimately cancelled in 2009.

In October 2011, Kanye premiered his “DW” by Kanye West womenswear collection at Paris Fashion Week. Critics weren’t too pleased and they even went as far as slandering the rapper’s collection. The New York Times, Eric Wilson said, “What Mr. West eventually showed was confusing
it was obvious that most of the clothes suffered from a poor fit.”

Kanye returned to Paris for the second time on March 6, 2012, and showed his Autumn/Winter 2012 collection at Paris Fashion Week. During the presentation, models walked the runway in a total of 20 different looks which included leather, furs and biker jackets. Fashion critics said that the second time around, “Kanye’s line was better than his first tried.” WSJ‘s Christina Binkley said, “This collection looks like he has had a lot of consultants working with him, but it’s way better than before.”

The collection did not show at fashion week since, and it eventually discontinued.

November 2013, I reported that Kanye West closed the doors to his Milan-based main fashion office and it was reported that he moved his fashion house to NYC.

Last February, West made his NYFW debut when he presented his Kanye West x adidas Originals Yeezy Season 1 collection at Skylight Clarkson Square in Manhattan (see it here). He followed-up with his Yeezy Season 2 collection last September at New York Fashion Week: The Shows (see it here).

With his latest collection, Yeezy Season 3, it looks like West still won’t be getting the recognition that other designers and creative directors get (Riccardo Tisci, Olivier Rousteing, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Virgil Abloh, Nicolas GhesquiĂšre, Alessandro Michele, Raf Simons, Demna Gvasalia, and John Galliano).

A lot of his pieces are built on sampling (Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Coach or a visit to the army store for military-inspired clothing). The models were outfitted in ripped, raggedy, oversize or too small clothes. Some of the clothes were falling off the models, while it looked like other models had to squeeze into their clothes.

The collection extends in different directions than Season 1 and Season 2: louder, larger and brighter than the neutral-toned sweats, knits, boots and bodysuits he has presented in the past. However, Athleisure, street-inspired silhouettes, and athletic elements were featured in the collection yet again – bodysuits, cargo wear, oversize outerwear, shearling coats, tights, sweaters, denim overalls, hoodies, and crewnecks.

West and Beecroft were inspired by the current refugee crisis for the show’s inspiration. After playing the album, West showed a teaser of a video game about his deceased mother’s path to heaven.

I think the issue with Kanye is that he’s not devoting all of his time to fashion. He’s still trying to juggle his line with his music career. If he really wants this, then he’s going to have to really hunker down and take a different viewpoint. Victoria Beckham was once a pop singer and she succeeded in the fashion industry because fashion is now her one and only job. She gave up on her music career to pursue her fashion line.

Kanye‘s music talent is there, but when people are really successful the way Kanye has been in music, they’re hoping and expecting their notoriety and fame will just translate across a lot of products. The fashion industry requires a lot of dedication and work. Some people will buy Kanye’s products once just because of his notoriety, but if the products doesn’t deliver, they won’t buy them again. You can’t base a fashion business on just fans. People base fashion on quality, does the clothes make you look good, does the clothes make you look sexy, they have to fit perfectly, they have to be in the right price range, they have to look different from what’s already out there. Clothes have to deliver as a whole. This is nothing new! This is the very proposition that ever serious creative designer or artistic director struggles with day in and day out. And that’s not any different for Kanye.

What demographic is Kanye aiming for? Designers have been passionate about fashion for years and worked hard to get to where they are. They’re not so prone to just letting people come in and just turning into a big deal. These are some talented people. They’ve been preparing for this all their lives.

As far as TLOP, the album played throughout the night at the venue, but we still don’t have an official release date. Speaking of the album, is West referencing Pablo Picasso, Escobar, or Neruda?

In conclusion, West is a musically ‘genius” but still hasn’t convinced me and others that he’s a “creditable” fashion designer.

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Donovan is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of www.dmfashionbook.com. For all general inquiries please email don@dmfashionbook.com Donovan has a BA in Journalism & Media Studies from the prestigious Rutgers University. He's currently studying entertainment and fashion law.