New York Fashion week kicked off Sept. 7 and thanks to Kanye West it came with plenty of controversy.
The show for West’s Yeezy season 4 collection for Adidas was staged outside on Roosevelt Island — a small stretch of land on New York City’s East River. The event required a one-hour shuttle ride and a one-hour wait which forced attendees and models to withstand sweltering heat.
When models started dropping from apparent heat exhaustion (and at least one broken heel during the show) Twitter lit up with complaints:
Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan noted in her review that West’s show wasn’t just bad, the fashions he showed were totally boring.
Maybe it all wouldn’t have been so bad if there hadn’t already been so much hype.
When West issued a casting call for the show earlier this week, he asked that only mixed race chicks apply.
In a pre-show interview with Vogue, West clarified his comments, saying that when he said “multiracial” models only, he really meant that he wanted all shades of black and brown women — just not white women.
Since 10,000 women of varying hues, showed up for the casting, West concluded that no one was too bothered by his request. But there was at least one woman who showed up at the casting call to protest — topless, natch.
On her bare torso was the message “they want black features not black girls” as she carried a sign that read “‘multiracial only’ = light skin only, you ain’t slick, ye.” The protestor also referred to an earlier quote from West, in which he said that “we” (presumably African-Americans?) call multiracial people “mutts.”
The woman later took to Instagram to explain why she decided to protest stating that it was an indictment not only of West, but of the fashion and beauty industries which continue to offer up a “racialized hierarchy of beauty which is a ubiquitous symptom of the legacy of colonialism.”
She said it didn’t matter if West decided to include women with darker skin tones in the show (which he did) but the issue was the language he chose which points to the bigger issue of colorism in the industry.
Below is her full message from Instagram which is should be noted had quite a few dissenting opinions from those who suggested that West is a man of his people always seeks to uplift women of color:
Judging from the photos of the show which featured a rainbow coalition of wilted colored women, while West’s actions/comments are disturbing on many levels, at the end of the day, no one can deny that he offered models of color — from the darkest chocolate to lightest cafe au lait — an equal opportunity at heat exhaustion.