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Kanye West Collaborator Vanessa Beecroft Talks Meeting the Rapper & Inspiration Behind Yeezy Fashion Show

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Vanessa Beecroft photographed at Palazzo Reale on Nov. 18, 2014 in Milan, Italy.

In February, Kanye West turned Madison Square Garden into a sartorial playground for his simultaneous Yeezy Season 3 fashion show and The Life of Pablo listening party. The woman behind the large-scale fashion show: Vanessa Beecroft. The contemporary artist who pulled inspiration from a 1995 Paul Lowe photograph depicting genocide in Rwanda recently spoke to New York magazine about her thoughts on race, meeting 'Ye and wanting people "to look poor" for his YS3 show. 

See the highlights below and read the full feature here

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On designing KimYe's lavish Florence wedding:

We were conflicting with a wedding planner from L.A. I did want to make it very minimal.

On using a photo of refugees escaping genocide in Rwanda for Yeezy Season 3 fashion show:

That was a random pick... The image came out of one of my books, and I thought, 'Perhaps this is Woodstock,' because it looked really fashionable and glamorous, but no. That was a refugee camp… I wanted the people to look poor. Poverty and elegance were the key words. Poverty and elegance. No trends, no fashion. Real poverty, what you encounter when you travel to Africa, Mexico, those countries where people wear their clothes with dignity and they look elegant and they look like they have intelligence. When we were casting, I said, 'Please don’t have anyone who looks stupid. Or fancy. Please. Classical, poor, and elegant.'

I realized that the people were moved. They started crying, the kids. That was something that made me happy. That was an achievement. Like, as if the trauma that was perpetuated for so many years finally... Look, if Kanye’s there to help people of color start to identify and go on a new form of awareness and revolution, then I am happy about that because he is doing it in a gentle way.

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On meeting Kanye West in 2008:

Usually my modalities exclude music, pop music, pop culture, mass culture. I hate it. When Kanye approached me, his studio to mine, my assistants said you have to meet him, he’s important. I had just come from several trips to Africa where a Sicilian intellectual academic man who I had consulted for the documentary said, ‘You will find your Orestes in the U.S., and it will be an African-American man.’ So when Kanye contacted me, I said, ‘Here he is!’ Also, Pasolini said the next king of Africa will be an African-American king of music, so I said fine. I decided to go with it.