PARIS — The Kanye West trend revival tour was introduced the day earlier than it started, and got here with an invite containing rattlesnake eggs and dried sage.
It kicked off Sunday morning within the peeling 19th-century environs of the Bouffes du Nord theater (previously residence of Peter Brook’s International Center for Theater Research) with a rousing gospel choir serenading 250 of trend’s sinners.
It continued the following night at 9 by a private reveal of the brand new Yeezy Season eight assortment within the bowels of the Espace Niemeyer, the Brutalist constructing that’s the headquarters of the French Communist Party and that’s well-known for the alien landing-looking white dome in its forecourt that crowns an underground council room.
And as a result of Mr. West can’t do something in half measure, what was supposed to be a small presentation to the business as an alternative culminated about half an hour afterward the sloping garden outdoors the constructing as thronged lots — those that had been invited and people who had been ready on the road within the chilly and rain — had been handled to a trend present en plein-air and from afar: pea-size fashions strolling spherical the skin of the dome and projected onto the curving sides of the constructing as safety individuals tried to herd attendees off the precise garden and onto some synthetic grass that had been laid for the event (although it was so darkish and crowded, nobody might inform the distinction) and everybody jostled for place and a choir of automobile horns rose and fell in unison, which at first everybody thought was a manifestation of site visitors rage, however then turned out to be a part of the efficiency.
All round, individuals began to giggle. Then flat-out giggle. Until a 6-year-old voice barked out, “My name is Northie,” and commenced to rap.
Then everybody bought excited.
Thus did Mr. West return to Paris Fashion Week: with household in tow, outreach on the thoughts, a dose of bombast, a dollop of absurdity and a chunk of residence.
Thus did he return eight years and one model since he first tried to conquer the business with skintight leather-based, bugle beads, broadtail and go-karts, solely to retreat after two seasons.
Thus did he return approximately five years after he re-emerged in New York with a whole new idea called Yeezy Season 1; and three and a half years since his Season 4 debacle on Roosevelt Island, where the heat and the wait and the lack of water led to fainting models and furious guests. (In fashion, and Kanye time, seasons and years have nothing to do with one other.)
Once upon a time he had tried to be part of the system and Paris had judged him and his aspirations harshly. But the world is very different today, in the wake of Instagram and influencers, Rihanna’s incursion at LVMH, the rise of streetwear and Mr. West’s own position as a sort of combination Delphic oracle/court jester/cultural harbinger/sneaker supremo.
He’s a new man. He said as much preshow as he shook every one of the various hands of a group of editors and critics while smiling beatifically beneath Gucci shades and surveying an assortment of models arrayed in Vanessa Beecroft-choreographed performance art positions, showcasing the collection like statuary. He was here to face the music. Or make the music. Something like that. But not to talk about some of his more recent controversies. President Trump did not come up.
“Each of these things is a form of practice,” he said. “Just getting back on the horse, designing and presenting.” Very Zen and, as he said, “wabi-sabi” (the Japanese aesthetic that embraces the imperfect).
But are the clothes new? Made almost entirely of muslin and wadded wool and fleece, they were closer in style to the Calabasas-colored vestments of his Sunday Service outfits than the military looks of early Yeezy, or the meta-Kim athleisure leggings of more recent years modeled often by his wife, Kim Kardashian West.
Trousers and jackets had a cloudy texture — wool pulled apart and whorled together in cirrus swirls — and a loose, swaddling feel; padded jackets turtled over the head and rose in front of the mouth like protective hazmat gear (“I’ve always been obsessed with hazmat,” Mr. West said). Waist-length or cropped puffers were seamed to bulge in various cumulonimbus forms. Axel Vervoordt, the Belgian antiquaire who was the interior designer of Mr. West’s California home and has a penchant for rawness, nature and the wear and tear of a life well-lived, was name-checked.
Mr. West said he stopped making what he described as “merch” four months ago because he was no longer pushing himself. “When I started,” he said, “everyone said, ‘Just do a T-shirt. The Row just did a T-shirt,’ because people had to do a celebrity comparison. But we fought really hard not to do T-shirts, and then I looked up, and I was only doing T-shirts.”
So he decided that he should try something different. Which was this. Which was meant to “dress the service industry — the nannies and housekeepers and chefs,” he said — people he suggested had been overlooked by fashion. Then he said, “The idea is to be of service, like Sunday Service.”
Presumably the idea was not to dress them for their day (or night) jobs, given it’s unlikely that a service professional might wear a knit bikini top or cropped puffer to work, but rather for their off-duty life. Though when he was asked it he would keep prices down to make the clothes affordable, Mr. West said cheerfully, “We haven’t priced them yet.”
Then he said the idea was to have all the wool come from the 700 sheep on his Wyoming ranch. Had the wool on view come from his sheep? No, not these looks. These were “experimental.” They were — probably? — going to be produced (it was hard to tell by the answer). They were “the beginning of a new language.” They were in “the infant stage.”
Which was true. Clothes and show and conversation were like one big work in progress; the gestations of ideas not yet fully realized, but introduced to the world nonetheless. Was it ego? Was it fashion? (Is there a difference?)
“Yeah, cool, cute,” rapped his eldest daughter. “Whoa.”
Well, kinda. There’s nothing revolutionary about the silhouettes or the structures, but in the end the clothes are the least of it — as they increasingly seem to be for other, more formally entrenched designers, who focus on production and atmosphere over product. The Yeezy merch (it’s still merch, but so is Balenciaga and Dior when you come down to it) acts as a souvenir of kinship, not classic taste. Not taste in the old highfalutin’ definition of the word, as a kind of elite aesthetic judgment woven in brocade and silk faille and passed down from on high, but rather taste in community, attitude, achievement.
That’s what the whole shebang — the monumental, entirely last-minute vision of the show for the street, the rickety execution, the screaming crowds, the editors rolling their eyes but still attuned to his every word — was about. This time, he did it his way, rather than the system’s way. Like it or not, that’s the way a big chunk of this whole shebang may be going.