The rapper and fashion icon, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, made his catwalk debut during Paris Fashion Week on Sunday with a runway strut that’s already grabbed the internet’s attention.
West opened Balenciaga’s apocalyptic-themed Summer 2023 show, which featured a mud-soaked runway surrounded by piles of sludge, surprising everyone in the audience, including daughter North West who sat front row at the event alongside aunts Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner.
Ditching his much-discussed bedazzled flip-flops, the Yeezy designer was dressed in a black, oversized, military-inspired jacket adorned with a “security” patch and leather pants. He wore a hoodie over a cap, which obscured part of his face ― West’s preferred method of appearing in public as of late.
The musician arrived at the show with his younger children Saint West, 6; Chicago West, 4; and Psalm West, 3, according to Entertainment Tonight, while their mother Kim Kardashian was reportedly not in attendance.
The unexpected appearance from the Grammy winner on the runway naturally spurred much conversation online.
The hip-hop legend has a long history with the Spanish fashion house, which he collaborated with for a capsule collection under his now-defunct partnership with Gap. Kardashian has also made major inroads with the luxury brand, which recently featured her in a buzzy new campaign.
Earlier in the week, West appeared at the Givenchy show in the French capital sporting a Balenciaga mouthguard.
As for why models were tasked with trudging through high-fashion muck, creative director Demna Gvasalia said the set stood as a “metaphor for digging for truth and being down to earth.”
“I hate boxes and I hate labels. … Individualism in fashion is downgraded to pseudotrends dictated by a post in stories of some celebrity of the moment,” he wrote in the show’s notes. “I’ve decided to no longer explain my collections and verbalize my designs, but to express a state of mind.”
It’s unclear why Kardashian wasn’t at the event, as she’s made a habit of still supporting West publicly since their split, while the former couple continue to hammer out the details of their somewhat-contentious divorce.
West was absent at the show she curated for Dolce & Gabbana titled “Ciao Kim” during Milan Fashion Week days ago, which was a full-fledged KarJenner family affair.
The back-to-back fashion extravaganzas arrive on the heels of West’s public apology to Kardashian for “any stress that I have caused” after previously attacking the reality star and her family on social media.
“This is the mother of my children and I apologize for any stress that I have caused, even in my frustration because God calls me to be stronger,” he said during a “Good Morning America” appearance. “But also, ain’t nobody else going to be causing no stress either. I need this person to be least stressed and the best sound mind and as calm as possible to be able to raise those children.”
Watch the full Balenciaga Summer 23 Collection below.