Kanye West’s Post-Apocalyptic Style Is a Reflection on Reality

Breaking down the rapper’s shift from YEEZY-beige to Balenciaga-black.

Fashion 
67,486 Hypes 37 Comments

Kanye West’s visual style seems to evolve and shift into a new era in line with the release of each of his albums. From the College Dropout years of preppy pink polos to the neo-futurism of Graduation (which briefly made shutter shades into a worldwide phenomenon), to single-handedly turbo-charging the sales of Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy during Watch the Throne, each release has seen ‘Ye change not only his aesthetic, but the visual cues of a generation of fans. 

Divisive he may be, but there’s no denying that he influences trends like almost no one else in music today. His looks filter down into the mass market one way or another — whether it’s his normcore dad rig or neon hues, we’ve all (often regrettably) been there.

Most recently, then, has been the YEEZUS era, which was defined by a utilitarian look (in keeping with the style of his YEEZY brand). Desaturated camel, khaki, and gray hues combined with combat boot-like YEEZY 950s on foot, which soon pivoted towards more retro-tech sneakers such as the 500 and 700 matched with workwear-inspired pieces in a wider range of tones. 

But as he enters a new era (backed by the delayed release of DONDA), everything ‘Ye has been up to these past few weeks feels as though it’s shifted into a darker, broodier, more post-apocalyptic phase.

It reached its zenith at last week’s DONDA listening party, where he appeared decked in the likes of Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta (with creative direction from the former’s leader, Demna Gvasalia, who dressed the rapper in Balenciaga’s porcupine-spiked jacket). It’s an interesting transition; metamorphosing from low-key, under-the-radar looks and his notoriously minimal-chic home with Kim Kardashian into a more bombastic — if bleakly dystopian — approach to dressing and living

It’s a shift that’s reflected in the wider menswear sphere, too. For Fall/Winter 2021, Rick Owens delivered a collection that was as post-apocalyptic as ‘Ye’s new visual identity. Set against brick walls and smoke, models were clad in full-face coverings, heavily padded garments, pleaser-esque boots, and sunglasses that wouldn’t be out of place in The Matrix. Elsewhere, Matthew M Williams’ Givenchy and Daniel Lee’s Bottega are united by a predominantly black, subculturally-inspired leather-heavy aesthetic. And while the sub-label of Gvasalia’s former brand, VTMNTS, experimented with color for its inaugural SS22 collection, the entire collection was marked by an angstier mood. The sparse offerings from West’s own collections for Gap have also been defined by a harder-edged, more synthetic look.

Arguably, it’s a shift that was precipitated by Balenciaga. The brand’s Fall 2020 show, which took place pre-pandemic (and provided West’s spiked jacket), was a reflection on climate apocalypse, and featured an almost entirely black menswear offering in leather, rubber, and synthetic fur. It’s a mood that was carried through to the brand’s Afterworld video game, which featured a similarly dark approach.

What does it all mean? Well, we expect Bottega Veneta’s hugely-imitated, heavy-soled boots to remain on every designer’s mood board of inspiration. Leather pants — a longtime West staple — look set to become ever-more popular (for proof, look to Frank Ocean’s just-released Financial Times cover), and minimal brands from The Row to noir kei ninomiya are set to experience a boom. 

As for Kanye West, his DONDA-era look leaves room for speculation. It’s iconoclastic and devilishly Hellraiser, but a stark contrast to the apparent domestic focus of the album itself. Yet we know already that the album will broach more religious themes — a mood-driven home by the videos of West ascending into the darkness of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. So is this West’s end-of-days era? Maybe the rapper knows something we don’t.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Kanye West’s 'DONDA' Has a New Release Date
Music

Kanye West’s 'DONDA' Has a New Release Date

As per Apple Music.

‘TAGGED’ Takes a Closer Look at Kanye West’s ‘DONDA’ Style
Fashion 

‘TAGGED’ Takes a Closer Look at Kanye West’s ‘DONDA’ Style

HYPEBEAST investigates Ye’s next era of fashion.

Twitter Reacts to Kanye West’s Modest Living Quarters at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Music 

Twitter Reacts to Kanye West’s Modest Living Quarters at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

College dorm Ye?


Reviewing Kanye West’s 'DONDA': From Chaos Comes Clarity
Music 

Reviewing Kanye West’s 'DONDA': From Chaos Comes Clarity

Ye’s 10th album is arguably his best in years.

LaMelo Ball Debuts His Signature PUMA MB1
Footwear

LaMelo Ball Debuts His Signature PUMA MB1

The reigning Rookie of the Year’s silhouette bears mesh and synthetic uppers with personal branding down the throat.

Moon Pod Is the New Bean Bag Chair — But Better
Tech 

Moon Pod Is the New Bean Bag Chair — But Better

Presented by Moon Pod
Like sitting on a cloud.

Roborock Introduces Latest New and Improved Cordless Vacuum
Tech 

Roborock Introduces Latest New and Improved Cordless Vacuum

Presented by Roborock
Paving the way for portable robotic cleaning.

Here's Every Item From Palace's Latest adidas Originals Collaboration
Fashion

Here's Every Item From Palace's Latest adidas Originals Collaboration

Including towelling bathrobes and a tie-dye yoga mat.

Telfar Releases Olympic-Themed Liberia Collection
Fashion

Telfar Releases Olympic-Themed Liberia Collection

As worn by Team Liberia at the games.


monkey time Spins Americana Classics for FW21
Fashion

monkey time Spins Americana Classics for FW21

Incorporating collaborative items with Wrangler, Pendleton, Alpha Industries, SKOOKUM and Columbia.

Pop Trading Company Continues to Evolve for FW21
Fashion

Pop Trading Company Continues to Evolve for FW21

As well as introducing collaborative pieces with Brian Lotti.

Yusuke Hanai and AllRightsReserved Reunite for the Artist's Largest Overseas Solo Exhibit
Art

Yusuke Hanai and AllRightsReserved Reunite for the Artist's Largest Overseas Solo Exhibit

“Facing the Current” debuts the artist’s largest 3D artwork to date.

Extra Butter Debuts New Balance 2002R “Protection Pack” With Exclusive Capsule
Footwear

Extra Butter Debuts New Balance 2002R “Protection Pack” With Exclusive Capsule

Injecting the Y2K aesthetic from 1995.

Palace and adidas Originals Reunite for "PALASTE" Capsule
Fashion

Palace and adidas Originals Reunite for "PALASTE" Capsule

To be worn in pursuit of deep relaxation.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Adblock Detected.

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. If you enjoy our content, please add us to your adblocker's whitelist. We'd really appreciated it.