Rejuvenated rapper Kanye West’s new Yeezy collection impresses at New York Fashion Week

Other highlights include opulent fur coats from Michael Kors, who put plus-size model Ashley Graham on his runway, and Narciso Rodriguez’s “no shenanigans” collection

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 2:30pm

Three months after being hospitalised for exhaustion, rapper Kanye West made his first major public appearance, turning up for his Yeezy fashion show during New York Fashion Week.

With his wife Kim Kardashian West in the front row next to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, West debuted the fifth season of his high-end athleisure wear collection for Adidas to the fashion world’s elite.

The show, which has become one of the most exclusive presentations during recent fashion weeks, was not live-streamed on the music streaming website TIDAL, as some of West’s shows have been in the past.

Critics were positive about the 39-year-old singer’s latest runway show, saying the emphasis was on his new collection rather than him.

“To me it felt like the most traditional fashion show that he’s done,” said Rickie De Sole, W magazine’s fashion market and accessories director, who was at the show.

“It had a polish to it. It felt like a serious fashion show. It felt substantial and there was less hoopla. It really was all about the fashion,” De Sole added.

Also notable was Michael Kors’ collection, full of opulent fur coats and monochrome looks. And Ashley Graham became the first plus-size model to walk on the New York runway for the veteran designer.

Graham, the 28-year-old American and self-proclaimed body activist who this month became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of Vogue, wore a black dress slashed to the thigh and belted at the waist with a cropped grey fur coat.

Graham, who is followed by 3.2 million people on Instagram, shot to fame last year when she became the first plus-size model on the cover of the annual “Swimsuit Issue” of magazine Sports Illustrated.

West’s collection was dominated by denim, high-waisted jeans, hoodie sweatshirts, baseball caps, cargo pants, knee-high boots and, of course, sneakers.

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Muslim model Halima Aden, the 19-year-old Somali-American who competed for Miss Minnesota wearing a burkini and who recently scored a major modelling contract with talent agency IMG, wore a floor-length fur coat and a hijab.

Buzz had been building around the appearance of the so-called “Yeezy Runner” after West was photographed wearing the oversized white sneakers by paparazzi in January.

Kardashian appeared in athleisure wear herself, a sleeveless, see-through turtle neck shirt, track pants and an oversized winter coat, all in maroon.

During the presentation, there were roughly 150 posts per minute about the Yeezy line on Twitter, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph.

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The 57-year-old Kors was a major draw on day six of Fashion Week in the Big Apple, pulling in actress Blake Lively and her husband, the Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, as well as Vogue’sWintour.

Models sashayed to the strains of Eurythmics hit Sweet Dreams – performed live by a string ensemble wearing fur coats, evening dresses and metallics.

Model of the moment Bella Hadid looked stunning in gunmetal grey. Kendall Jenner closed the show in a black tasselled evening dress.

There were a succession of one-colour outfits in chocolate, camel and olive, slouchy suede boots, asymmetrical cutaways to reveal the thigh, and rich dresses in molten silver and gold.

It was a very New York look: draped dresses, skirts and blouses contrasted with tailored jackets and a defined waist to present what Kors called “covered-up sexiness” and “urban takes on languid kimonos and sarongs”.

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Rodriguez presented a sleek, disciplined and beautifully tailored collection, thrilling fashion fans who might be wearying from some of the louder spectacles of Fashion Week, now in its closing days.

And while some designers sent overt messages about the nation’s political and social turmoil – slogans on T-shirts, for example – Rodriguez was happy to let his craftsmanship do the talking. “No shenanigans anywhere,” he said, summing up his collection.

“I think there’s so much fashion today and there’s so much theatre and that’s great,” he said. “But I guess what I am trying to say is that the climate we’re experiencing has made me focus on things that are pragmatic and real and beautifully made.”

Standout garments included dresses and tops with ladder-like cut-outs in front, adding a bit of spice to the impeccably tailored look. There were cropped pants, a few filmy black tops, and shimmering paillette dresses. There were sleek cashmere or wool coats in black, white, grey and copper, and a loosely fitting silk dress that looked impossibly soft.

“I think everything that happens in the world affects any creator, any filmmaker, everyone, and this is certainly a time where I was focusing on creating things that women were going to be wearing in the future,” Rodriguez said. “And hopefully getting rid of any of the nonsense.”

He said he hoped to be making garments that women would keep forever in their closets.

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“I think we have the capability to create things that empower people – not because they’re wearing huge shoulder pads, or impractical things, or costumes, but you can make people feel really good by giving them something that they’ll treasure for their entire life, and they’ll want to keep in their wardrobe forever and hopefully pass it on to their daughter,” he said.

Front row guests included the newly arrived Calvin Klein designer Raf Simons, and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.