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Yeezy


Any story about Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 4 show at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park—one of the least known, most spectacular spots in New York City—has to start with the positively epic journey there and back. Shuttles departed from 601 W. 26th Street—not quite as far away as you can get from Roosevelt Island, but close—at 1:30 in the afternoon. An hour and a half later, the bus riders joined those who took the tram across the East River or traveled in private cars at the entrance to the park, where we waited, and waited, and waited in shadeless 83 degree heat. The official start time was 3:00 p.m., but we took our seats more than an hour later, not long before West’s extended family made their entrance at around 4:13—it was another 20 minutes or so before the first model hit the runway. West lost a few editors before that who thought the street-cast models in flesh-tone bras, boy shorts, bodysuits, and other stretchy athleisure pieces who were standing, sitting, and in one case passing out, in the middle of the runway (in another collaboration with the artist Vanessa Beecroft), were the extent of the proceedings.

Like we said, the Four Freedoms Park is a special place. Its allée of trees and memorial celebrate the four freedoms FDR put forth in his 1941 State of the Union: the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear. West’s selection of the venue seemed pointed and intentional, a political statement in a contentious election year where the Republican candidate’s racism is possibly fueling a culture of hate. Coming from a superstar with as big a reach as West has, it’s a powerful message, one that was unfortunately and inevitably diluted by the mismanagement of the event. Fashion editors are not unfamiliar with long waits, but bottled water would’ve been welcome. As it was, the nearly five-hour experience (back in the city via subway at 5:45) precluded seeing the five or so small brands on the afternoon’s official calendar.

The meat of the matter, of course, is the clothes and the accessories, and as for them, the Yeezy look remains consistent, based on surplus basics, knits of many kinds, and, certainly, the smash-hit sneakers. As he said in a Vogue.com interview before the show, “I want to make pieces that can be timeless.” Where the look of Season 4 did evolve was in the color palette. The show cycled through whites to blacks, with a concentration on pale colors that looked bleached or sun-faded. A photo West shared suggested that the pieces were hand-dipped in a rainbow of Rit dye. Keeping with that pretty meme, he also showed a parka in an almost delicate, treelike camouflage print alongside a standard issue camo jacket. Shearling outerwear was a big emphasis here, but perhaps that’s not so unusual anymore in our post-season world. There were also a good many delectable knits of both the slinky and the slouchy variety. In other words, lots of closet staples for Kanye’s true believers and otherwise. The over-the-knee stiletto boots need a good deal of work. And the same goes for the execution of his shows.