Ye, originally Kanye West, is a guy of many talents. He is a rapper, a songwriter, and a fashion designer. However, after walking the runway for Balenciaga on Sunday during Paris Fashion Week, he can now add “runway debut for luxury fashion house Balenciaga” to his list of accomplishments.
The rapper led the audience down the muddy “runway” to begin the Balenciaga Summer 2023 collection reveal.
Kanye West was the first “model” to go down Balenciaga’s “dark circular dirt path,” which was “a reference for digging for the truth and being down to earth,” as Balenciaga’s creative director Demna described it. Despite the fact that Ye has dissolved ties with the Gap, his partnership with Balenciaga still remains.
Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga, claimed that Kanye hid his identity for the runway show to send a message about the importance of appreciating one’s individualism rather than fawning over celebrities.
He added backstage that this season is a continuation of the previous one. When the snow melts, it transforms into mud. So, during the show, the Spanish artist Santiago Sierra piled up tons of mud around the outside of the stadium and carved out bomb craters in the center.
Sissel Tolaas, a frequent collaborator of Demna, created a custom scent of decomposition that blasted us in the face of the audience.
The rapper opened the show by looking mysterious as always, as he sashayed down the muddy ramp wearing a black hoodie teamed with a bulky military-style jacket with a hefty amount of utility pockets; adding to the ready-to-war outfit was the word “Security” over the coat’s left breast, leather pants, and a baseball cap with the hood pulled over it.
The rapper’s attire and demeanor perfectly reflected the dystopian aesthetic that the brand was aiming to portray.
The ragtag band that followed looked rough around the edges thanks to hours spent in the makeup chair making their faces look bruised and treatments applied to their clothes to make them look worn and beat-up (which took “a couple of days” longer than producing flawless luxury, said Demna).
Some carried bags made from stuffed animals that appeared to have been through a war. When the 75 models made their circuit on the muddy track, dirt splashed their bare ankles and drenched their hems due to the inefficacy of their 3-D printed Dutch clogs.
Demna said on Instagram in a “message for the show“: “I dislike boxes and I hate labels, and I despise being labeled and put in a box… Fashion adores packaging and labeling above anything else. Putting high-end clothes in the box of polished, exclusive, and outwardly expensive is limited and pretty old school. Individualism in fashion is downgraded to pseudo trends dictated by a post in stories of some celebrity of the moment.”
Demna continued, “I’ve decided to no longer describe my collections and verbalize my designs, but rather to communicate a state of mind.”
“Fashion is a visual art, and all we need is for it to be viewed through someone’s eyes,” he added, emphasizing that fashion does not require explanation to be marketed — “you either like it or you don’t.”
“Let everyone be themselves and make love, not war,” he concluded.
The show’s invitation was a worn-out wallet stuffed with cards, receipts, and other mementos. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Christine Quinn, Doja Cat, and Alexa Demie were in attendance, making for a star-studded affair both on and off the runway.
All four of West’s children, North, Chicago, Psalm, and Saint West, were present at the Balenciaga show, which was Ye’s first time walking the runway. Models like Bella Hadid were seen walking through the muddy runway.