This is What Went Down at Yeezy Season 3
In Yeezy’s world, runways are so 2015. Everyone knew that Kanye West had something big planned for the third iteration of his divisive Adidas-backed Yeezy Season brand when he announced that the show would happen at one of the biggest event centers in New York, be the streaming party for his long-awaited album The Life of Pablo, and feature staging and a special performance from artist and longtime collaborator Vanessa Beecroft. By the time the event had ended, millions of people live-streamed the event, watched it in theaters around the world, and packed into Madison Square Garden to check out over 1200 models (including Naomi Campbell) model the new collection while his new album blared across the venue. As we moved into the lobby, the vibe was intense and a morose energy lingered throughout the crowd. It was more than a bit terrifying, but as we entered the arena and caught sight of the giant parachute tarp, we should’ve known this was going to more wild than any fashion show we’ve ever been to.
Before a single model was revealed, a star-studded crowd took their seats to catch what may have been one of the biggest fashion week events ever. The Hadids joined Jaden Smith, Anna Wintour, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Karlie Kloss, A$AP Rocky, and every other notable celebrity from the past decade. When Kanye finally appeared after a parade of minx-coat wearing Kardashians (including a newly-blonde Kim) took their seats, he walked alongside Lamar Odom in Odom’s first appearance since the near-tragedy a few months ago.
When the tarp came off, a small army of models stood, sat, smoked, and stared into the distance. Two raised pillars jutted out from the ground like platforms to elevate the entire event to a whole new level. As the bleachers began to shake with the sounds of The Life of Pablo, the familiar earthy color palette mixed with unexpected spikes of blue and orange to create a scene that looked straight out of Mad Max. It was immediately clear that the designs had evolved to include more intricate detailing, bolder choices in fabric, and a step up from the past Yeezy Seasons’ adherence to bare basics. One of the most striking details came from the giant screen overhead that exclusively showed the models in various stages of grief—including one who had tears streaming down his cheeks.
This all contrasted with a euphoric scene as Kanye showed off an hour-long grin while revealing months of hard work across every creative medium. Track after track dropped lines about everyone from Black Chyna and Rob’s love affair to a few choice lines about Taylor Swift and Ray J. Oh yeah, and there was also that interlude of Kanye doing what he does best—rapping about Kanye. Everything we thought we’d see and hear was cast aside by the third monologue from Kanye as he talked about fame, fashion, and the struggles of expressing his creative genius before providing one of the touching—and bizarre—moments of the night. Kanye surprised everyone when he unveiled yet another project he’s been working on. This one is a video game called Only One and it’s about his mom’s journey to heaven.
As Kanye left the venue, Virgil Abloh took over the DJ duties and turned Ye’s fashion show/streaming party/video game preview/inspirational speech into an after hours dance party that gave the stiff and distraught models a chance to rage. Meanwhile, everything from throwback Kanye tracks to his G.O.O.D. Fridays music collabs to Beyonce’s “Formation” and Rihanna’s “Work” blasted through the Garden. As the young models decked out in Yeezy Season 3 gear danced and sang along, we realized that Kanye’s event wasn’t about the fashion or the new album—this was a vision realized.
Photography by Mazdack Rassi and Devin Gilmartin.