Hello, this is Alex Needham back from a freezing cold, aptly named West Street where the show took place, nearly an hour late, much to the irritation of the assorted fashionistas who had to queue as rehearsals overran.
Inside, the scene was a dimly lit warehouse with about 10 rows of models (a row of women, then a row of men) standing motionless, wearing a selection of boots ranging from Russian-style foot cloths to vertiginous high heels.
The clothes ranged from shredded army jumpers and oversized camouflage parkas for the men to white bodystockings for the women – a somewhat sexist styling decision. There were some pretty clear fashion references, Raf Simons’s AW01 Manic Street Preachers-inspired collection being one – made even more obvious given that West was recently photographed wearing a Simons vintage bomber jacket with a Richie Edwards patch.
As Jay Z, Beyonce and Anna Wintour watched in the front row alongside Kim Kardashian, who had on one of the camouflage coats, the lights went up and the show was announced by a West monologue about “how people are scared to create” and how he wanted to inspire them to do so. Then as some unearthly, ethereal voices and synthesizer sounds struck up, the models started to move forward, the front row walking along the perimeter of the room.
About halfway through, a ribcage-rattling bassline started up and a new West song started to play. Called Wolves, it was a somber, angsty, slow but turbocharged pop song, sung rather than rapped, a warning about how the singer was “bad for you”.
It injected a genuine sense of energy into the room, especially since Jay Z and contingent all started dancing in their seats. Suddenly, the fact that West had made a bunch of sneakers along with a new record seemed impressive rather than annoying – or at least different manifestations of the same formidable creative vision, even if one is currently a lot more artistically successful than the other. As Kanye walked through the crowd of models, wearing his grey suede hi-tops and a black hoody, it felt that, despite everything, he had earned the applause.