Monday, 30 January 2012

Kanye West, fashion and music festivals.

Hello Paris '99ers!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of being surprised by a great friend with a ticket to the 20th anniversary of the legendary music festival Big Day Out at the Flemington Racecourse. In my earlier days I had always been to the festival while it was housed at the Showgrounds, and as such was a little disorientated by the layout, let alone that I could hardly recognise the site as housing the Spring Racing Carnival only a few months earlier!
Also, the headliner had traditionally been a superstar rock group, including the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Powderfinger.
This year was an altogether different story, with none other than Kanye West, 'Yeezy' or 'ye', taking up main stage closing honours. Now I must admit to a little cheating, I YouTubed, I believe it is already a verb much like Googled, a clip of Kanye at the Gold Coast event, so I had a fair idea of what to expect during parts of the set, or rather, show.
After British band Kasabian finished, squeezed just between the two barriers, I could make out the hyraulic platform on which he would suddenly appear and sing the opening song, and in a moment of pre-starstruck-dom, planted myself as close to the contraption as possible, to either be able to reach out and make contact, or as I put it, to see whether or not Kanye would still be wearing his favoured 'Celine' blouse from the spring/summer 2011 collection.
He did not disappoint, but I must point out that he debuted the outfit at the also legendary rock festival Coachella in California in April 2011. As a self professed fashion lover, who was able to fulfil his passion by presenting a womenswear collection, a year later, on the official schedule at Paris Fashion Week spring/summer 2012, I confess I found this a little odd. Is it a product placement campaign stating the blouse must be worn, or does he really really love it?

The Celine blouse at Coachella 2011, and as seen on the runway in Paris. Image taken from, thanks :)
Perhaps the best representation of the back of the blouse as taken by the very excited me at yesterday's Big Day Out.

There was simply no doubt that Kanye's performance was fantastic, give or take a little too much live Auto-tune to add effect or perhaps mask a not so super hot singing voice, though this of course is not secret. As a non R'n'B lover I was taken aback by the wonder that is 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. I, like many, felt it transcended genre and showed depth in writing, arrangement and production.
The stage was covered totally in white, with a giant backdrop of (thanks to some quick Wikipedia via Google research) a battle scene featuring Athena, the city Goddess of Pergamon and the Giant Alkyoneus.

As the intro dramatic intro music played and the 22 ballerinas from the 'Runaway' video ran madly across the stage as a distraction, the platform rose just in front of us and there was Kanye, rapping the title track from his most recent solo album (and of course ironically, or not, a lyric mentions his female companion 'in that new Phoebe Philo'.
But back to fashion.
As the set was about to draw to a close (a generous 30 minutes of extra music, or maybe spoken word, either way) Kanye lay on his back and launched into a monologue about following his dreams, coming to New York, recording for the first time, being 'lost in the world, down on my life and new in the city', and urging us to set our goals as high as possible, he touched on the fact that he'd found a new passion in clothing, and that (paraphrased) 'believe me, none of those people want me there'.
Now of course I found this particularly interesting. As you know I have been obsessed with fashion since I was 11 years old; drawing, draping, cutting and sewing designs, collecting a mountain of fashion print material from all over the world and visiting designer boutiques and department stores to really understand how things work.
Not to judge too harshly, and of course having been shown six months ago much has been written, but Kanye's Paris collection was a little bit of hodge-podge, a bit of Balmain, a bit Celine, some old Helmut Lang, maybe Givenchy or Herve Leger, nothing was truly amazing or original, and there did not seem to be a central idea or concept driving the collection's shapes, fabric choices or finishings (simple design school fare...).

Kanye West spring/summer 2012, photos taken from, thanks :)

If his new found career is indeed fashion design, and it is not simply a vanity project, it is now February and Fashion Month is about to start. Having spent time with a label who shared the Paris runway with Kanye, I can tell you, though I'm sure you know, it takes much longer than 4 weeks to put together a good, consistent and cutting edge collection.
If I were Kanye, the minute the Australia tour is over, I would scoot back to my studio, hang my measuring tape and snippers around my neck and get cracking on winter 2012/2013!
Thank you for reading my sermon and I will try and be less wordy next time :)

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