For a guy whose legal name is two letters, Kanye West sure does get a lot of people to write a lot of words. It's hard not to: Ye's YEEZY SEASON 9 fashion show was easily the biggest moment of Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2023.
Fashion Month SS23 was packed with events that could've easily taken the viral cake. From Coperni's Bella Hadid dress stunt to the tumbling models at AVAVAV, it's hard to pick exactly what broke the internet the hardest.
Or, at least it was until the afternoon of October 3, when Kanye and Hood By Air founder Shayne Oliver broke the internet with YEEZY SEASON 9 (or YZY SZN 9, as they like to say).
Ye and Oliver didn't come to play, with a massively hyped surprise show that was arguably even more outrageous than the Balenciaga show from the day prior, which Kanye himself starred in, wearing a massive cargo-pocketed jacket.
Anyways, with YEEZY SEASON 9 alone, there's a lot to unpack. So, let's break down the biggest moments from Kanye's YZY SZN show in descending order from craziest to, well, somewhat less crazy.
"White Lives Matter" T-shirt
This is the moment that elevated YEEZY SEASON 9 from oddity to pure spectacle. After making the audience wait nearly half-an-hour — reportedly for a few celebrities to arrive — Kanye stepped out to deliver a long-winded rant.
However, I can't imagine anyone was paying much attention once they saw the giant "WHITE LIVES MATTER" text printed on the back of his black T-shirt.
On the front, it was a parody John Paul II T-shirt — specifically, one printed with "Juan Pablo II." A few models later wore inverted variations.
Ye's White Lives Matter T-shirt immediately became the main subject on Twitter, where it took over discussions about YZY SZN 9 as a whole.
I'm sure Ye would spin the inflammatory graphic to be about reclaiming the racist phrase like he did when wearing a confederate flag patch nearly a decade ago or the MAGA hat just the other year but, really, they're all of a piece.
This is shock value, plain and simple, and it generated more buzz for YEEZY SEASON 9 than any clothes ever could.
It certainly wasn't any more coherent.
One of the first points Ye made was about the infamous YEEZY SEASON 4 fashion show from 2016, where models sweated under the blistering sun. Some, exhausted and dehydrated, fainted.
At YZY SZN 9, Ye ranted about this event like it was a bump in his road towards success.
"There were countless swimsuit and sporting looks we put together that ended up becoming a $4 billion brand. If anyone remembers that show, there were people falling over and that's what the press wrote about," Ye said, glossing over the models' suffering. "Now the show is starting late. After my YEEZY SEASON 4 show started late, the press completely killed us."
Kanye was clearly irritated about these talking points taking away from what he's attempting to achieve with the YEEZY SEASON shows and wouldn't start the show until he made that clear.
In fairness, he didn't just vent. Ye discussed the insular nature of the fashion industry, his annoyance at folks citing that one infamous Tommy Ton photo, and his frustration with GAP.
Like most Kanye rants, sprinkled between the outrageous claims, there were some solid points, too.
It seems like it'd ring a little hollow to complain about the fashion gatekeepers when you're hosting a 50-person VIP-only fashion show exclusively attended by CEOs, celebrities, and editors like Anna Wintour and John Galliano but, to his credit, Ye did acknowledge the conflicting messages (kinda).
The best part came at the end, however, when Kanye triumphantly asserted that "Bernard Arnault is my new Drake," directly calling out the CEO of LVMH. If anyone can go after the world's third-richest man, though, it's probably Kanye.
A plethora of custom footwear designs took the YEEZY SEASON 9 runway, ranging from strange sock-shoes that wrap the foot to boots nearly as puffy as the outerwear.
But the star of the show is the YZY boot, a bespoke shoe designed by Ye and his team alongside 3D-printing company Zellerfeld. Known for bringing to life advanced shapes alongside designers like Heron Preston and Kidsuper, Zellerfeld is the perfect companion for realizing Kanye's anti-adidas agenda.
In a press release, Zellerfeld asserted that its proprietary techniques allowed "brands like YZY to bypass traditional manufacturing and supply chains, in order to develop and deploy new footwear in weeks, rather than months or years."
The YZY boot is proof positive: According to Zellerfeld, the shoe was developed and produced the weekend prior to the YEEZY SEASON 9 show. Talk about last-minute.
Funny to see the stuff that's typically the main focus of a fashion show so low on a list of big moments, but here we are.
The clothes, co-designed by Ye and Shayne Oliver, are indeed worthy of mention, it's just that they pale in comparison to what Kanye had to say and wear.
There were tight bodysuits riddled with holes, ragged sweatshirts knotted around the body, puffy bomber jackets, balaclavas, billowing capes, and slim jeans tucked into tall YZY boots à la Kanye's own uniform.
But, can any of it really compare to the White Lives Matter T-shirt? Certainly not, at least in terms of sheer clickbait.
YEEZY SEASON 9 smacks of YEEZY GAP Engineered by Balenciaga sensibilities, which is good for the folks who enjoyed that collection's post-industrial dystopia.
In fact, it's probably best to look at YZY SZN 9 as what it is: a collection of clothing that may or may not actually get produced for mass consumption but, instead, is a good barometer for feeling out exactly where Kanye's head is, as far as garment design is concerned.
Will we all be wearing YZY SZN in the future? Hard to say for the general public but the kids attending Kanye's school certainly will be.
Some of them were even there, apparently, part of the DONDA Gospel choir that danced and sang throughout the YEEZY SEASON 9 show. They were joined by North West, who clutched the latest iteration of Kanye's Stem Player.
Then, there's the folks actually wearing the YEEZY SEASON 9 gear.
From Givenchy creative director Matthew M. Williams to Naomi Campbell to British designer Mowalola to Michèle Lamy — you may know her husband, Rick Owens — the cast was a who's-who of Kanye pals. Demna was also in the building but, unfortunately didn't take his model turn.
Prior to the show, however, Kanye teased a list of would-be models that included, seriously, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Gisele Bündchen.
Disappointingly, they didn't show up, unless that was them obscured by the face-masked YEEZY SEASON bodysuits. Can't win them all.
Otherwise, hard to describe YZY SZN 9 as anything other than a resounding success, considering that it dominated the news cycle from the moment it all went down.