The fashion industry let out a collective sigh of relief when speculation and rumors began swirling that Kanye West might cancel his Yeezy Season 6 New York Fashion Week show that was originally slated for noon on Sept. 13. Good news for editors; Yeezy fans, not so much.
Ever since West debuted his first in February 2015, he’s left a trail of incredulous (if not, outright incensed) designers and aggravated editors in his wake for not scheduling his shows through the proper channels (and thus, to the chagrin of others, conflicts to the already precarious schedule that is the NYFW calendar) or demanding a time commitment of a couple hours at least from show-goers. It came to a head when West infamously showed Season 4 on Roosevelt Island, a train wreck if there ever was one, which involved fainting models, a one-hour delay, and harassment by cops.
But back to Season 6. It all started when an anonymous Redken representative went on the record to say that the show was canceled because “they did not get the pieces together in time.” But an official statement has yet to be released to confirm whether that’s the case. Other sources have said Season 6 will happen, just not during NYFW. In short, no one knows what’s going on, except perhaps the man himself (and even then, who knows). Leave it to West to stir up drama over hearsay. It’s classic Kanye. While NYFW continues to march ahead with designers who have dotted their i’s, crossed their t’s, and got their time slots approved by the CFDA, the void that West’s Yeezy show has potentially left, has us wondering, How will this affect the Yeezy brand? And more importantly, the Kanye West brand?
“I feel like part of Kanye’s brand allure is his unpredictability. So not showing at NYFW is perfectly on-brand for him and in the end might bring more goodwill by not competing with a smaller designer for a time slot and also not taking editors on a bus ride to Roosevelt Island with no water,” says a fashion editor who has asked to remain anonymous. “Also, rumor has it that he’ll show outside of NYFW so he won’t have to share the spotlight with anyone—kind of how he likes it.”
One could argue that West gives absolute zero fucks—he does his own thing whether you like it or not. Or maybe, he’s simply over fashion week, or fashion for that matter.
But the thing is, West cares—a lot.
When he staged his first-ever fashion show during Paris Fashion Week in 2011, he was eviscerated. “His show was described by those who attended, as, at best, a disappointment,” then-critic Eric Wilson wrote for the New York Times. So when the rapper got the chance for a do-over with the backing and support of Adidas, he did so with just the right amount of flair (he recruited Vanessa Beecroft to ideate the runway concept), and it paid off—he found praise among his toughest critics. You could say he’s lost his way since then, churning out derivatives of the same design (distressed, outsized pieces in a neutral color palette) season after season, and staging his shows at ridiculous, over-the-top venues (Madison Square Garden and again, Roosevelt Island).
West is still an outsider in the fashion industry, but that can be said of any celebrity who’s trying to establish him/herself as a credible designer. The exceptions? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Victoria Beckham, who are shining examples of success, but then, they’ve never missed a show (at least not to my knowledge) because “they did not get the pieces together in time” and they’ve certainly never bussed their show-goers to Roosevelt Island just to make them wait an hour in the scorching sun.
Then again, West has never been one to conform. His most popular, critically acclaimed albums—The College Dropout, Late Registration, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, specifically—were hits because they didn’t sound like anything else out there.
Still, whenever and wherever West does plan to show Season 6 (with so many New York brands, like Altuzarra and Proenza Schouler, decamping for Paris Fashion Week, rumor has it that West might follow suit), people will turn up. Die-hard Yeezy fans will continue to buy his clothes (wholesale orders for Season 4 were the largest to date, reports Business of Fashion, despite his controversial show). And it’s because at the end of the day, he’s a celebrity, he’s a successful musician, he’s Kanye West.