If there’s one thing that Kanye West has mastered, it’s the art of surprise. It’s no secret that the rapper and designer is incredibly passionate about cutting-edge fashion, but up until now, he’s stayed off the runway himself. That changed on Sunday, Oct. 2, when West surprised everyone by making his catwalk debut. That’s right — Kanye West is a runway model now, and the video of his first walk for Balenciaga’s Summer 2023 show at Paris Fashion Week is totally on-brand.
West has a long-standing history with the luxury fashion brand Balenciaga, collaborating with the creative director of the brand, Demna, to put together a collection of clothes and accessories sold by GAP. West cut ties with GAP in September due to the company not upholding agreements on the price point of his line. Despite departing from GAP, West has remained involved with Balenciaga and took to the runway for the first time as the surprise first model for the brand’s Paris Fashion Week show.
Instead of the crisp white, brightly lit runways most fashion brands adhere to, Balenciaga thought outside of the box. Literally. True to the show’s title — Balenciaga's Apocalyptic, Mud-Filled SS23 — the runway was lined with dirt and mud, models stomping through the mess to showcase the dark, brutalist collection. The model that lead the charge was Kanye West making his runway debut. Donned in signature all-black attire, West wore an oversized jacket with a security label stitched into the breast, a sweatshirt with a hood pulled over a baseball hat, baggy pants, and boots covered in mud. Due to the sunglasses and hoodie, it was difficult for attendees to recognize West.
West posted his debut runway look himself, highlighting the collection’s theme on gritty conflict.
According to Demna’s show notes, the featured collection was intentionally rough around the edges. The mud the models trudged through was “a metaphor for digging for truth and being down to earth.” What’s more down-to-earth than dirt? Models wore makeup that made their faces look battered and bruised, an expression of the harsh reality of survivalists in dire situations. Some models strolled through the mud with a carriage and Balenciaga branded doll.
All four of West’s children made an appearance in the crowd, though his ex-wife Kim Kardashian was nowhere to be found. Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner attended the show as well and got to see the post-apocalyptic vibes up close, as did stars like Doja Cat and Alexa Demie.
Looks like this year’s Fashion Week didn’t just showcase lots of new fashions, but also a brand-new runway model.