What Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost Presentation Was Like

What I saw at the debut of Kanye’s Adidas collection on Thursday.

February 12, 2015

Anna Wintour was seated early at the Thursday presentation of Kanye West's first collection for Adidas in New York. Around 4:20, a reigning class of celebrities filled in around her: Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, Big Sean and Justin Bieber. Russell Simmons sat just off to the side, filming on his iPhone 6. In shearling, Diddy looked like a character from Empire. 2 Chainz and Travi$ Scott had on similar leather outfits, but Scott's was pink. When Beyoncé and Jay Z walked in, they were trailed by a guy with a camcorder. It was small but didn't look tapeless — like the kind of thing designed in 1999, back before something like Instagram was even conceivable.

"I want people to feel like awesome is possible," Kanye said in a pre-recorded opening speech that would have certainly been delivered less safely live. And the clothes he showed were great, all things I'd happily buy. There were bomber jackets, drapey sweats and sweaters, backpacks, one tailored peacoat with a shredded hem. These are basics that do not feel too basic, a unisex uniform for smart people who go to both the gym and the office, then stay out late.

The palette was nude, army green, Yeezy red, black. Models stood in rows, like a website's product page IRL. The girls didn't all have boyish runway figures, and a kid with yellow dreads fidgeted more than the choreography called for. Each row took a turn standing in front of the cameras at the front of the room, then walked off to the back. As each group walked up, a single musical note would swell. It sounded like a string player warming up, or the singing bowls they ring at the end of a yoga class. Meanwhile, lights from the ceiling would go from dim to bright then back. It reminded me of the sun-simulating alarm clock I bought recently, which has still not made my life better.

A new song from Kanye West's upcoming album, called "Wolves," was debuted at the presentation's close. Khloe Kardashian bobbed her head more than anyone else. Afterward, people seemed unsure what to do. Some clapped, some stood, some didn't. Produced by Cashmere Cat and Sinjin Hawke, "Wolves" features Sia and Vic Mensa. That cameo might prove a nice boost for Mensa, who was seated a section away from Wintour on Thursday, but only after negotiating with Adidas staffers, who hadn't previously assigned him a seat. He came with a beautiful girl, whose blonde afro matched his bleached tips.

"The youth will always win," said a T-shirt posted to Instagram earlier on Thursday by Virgil Abloh, the creative director and designer who's collaborated with Kanye on fashion lines, merch, and tour productions. Around the country on Thursday, kids watched the presentation streamed to movie theaters. "This isn't about elitism or separatism," Kanye told Ryan Seacrest on Wednesday, explaining the decision to simulcast. Meanwhile, inside the event space, the 16-year-old artist Asspizza was wearing dirty shoes and the tyvek windbreaker that came with the show's invite. It wasn't a Lincoln Center look. The person who best made the case for this being something other than a typically tightly-pinched fashion thing, though, was North West, who cried at the opening of the show. Then Kim carried her out, grandmother Kris Jenner following closely behind to fill in, so that Kim could return to applaud her husband for a job well done.

What Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost Presentation Was Like