Only seconds were needed for the crowd of guests to recognize that stroll in the mud-covered Paris showroom of Balenciaga. Kanye West launched a presentation that was focused on individualism by stomping down the brand’s sludge-spattered runway in the Parc des Expositions while sporting leathers and a game face that could compete with any model.
At the Spanish luxury house’s spring 2023 show, the rapper and fashion designer, now going as Ye, startled the crowd by introducing the post-apocalyptic-themed display. The enigmatic rapper and Demna collaborator was in classic paparazzi-dodging gear, cap pulled low and hood up. He represented the brand’s new mission to move away from the labels the industry so dearly loves to utilize, dressed in an all-black ensemble of military-meets-motocross pieces.
Ye’s participation fits with Balenciaga’s penchant of using famous people as models; their Couture show in July included Dua Lipa, Nicole Kidman, and house ambassador Kim Kardashian.
The dystopian muddy set, which featured puddles and mounds of muck, was described by Demna in the show’s notes as “a metaphor for digging for truth and being down to earth.” In addition, he stated that he wanted the show’s atmosphere, which was defined by dirt and water puddles, to speak for itself.
“I’ve decided to no longer explain my collections and verbalise my designs, but to express a state of mind,” said Demna in his press notes. “Fashion is a visual art and all we need is for it to be seen through someone’s eyes.” Much like any creative outlet, he argued, fashion should not need an explainer to sell it: “You either like it or not.”
As a nod to his thoughts for the house’s winter 2022 presentation, which took place soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, the designer also included an anti-war message. “Let us let everyone be anyone and make love not war,” he wrote.