Kanye West is facing the repercussions of (and harsh critiques for) his most recent attention-seeking antics in fashion. After having models strut with “White Lives Matter” T-shirts during his YZY show in Paris Monday, leaders in the fashion world heavily criticized and slammed the provocateur for his ill-executed attempt at sending a message about race.
West, for his part, has doubled down on his Candace Owens-endorsed “fashion statement” and weaponized his social media to 1) say that “Black Lives Matter was a scam,” 2) attack Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who described his White Lives Matter show as an “incredibly irresponsible and dangerous act,” and 3) blame the CEO of LVMH for the death of his alleged “best friend” Virgil Abloh.
In other words, he’s backed his nonsense-built YZY line with even more nonsense. The Vogue editor put it best: “The T-shirts this man conceived, produced, and shared with the world are pure violence,” Karefa-Johnson wrote. “There is no excuse, there is no art here.”
Earlier in the day, Karefa-Johnson had shared her thoughts on the show and explained that West “was trying to illustrate a dystopian world in the future when whiteness might become extinct,” but in reality, she said his show did something with a completely opposite effect: “It’s hugely irresponsible to furnish the most dangerous extremists with this kind of fictional narrative.”
Attacking the editor in four Instagram feed posts, West described Karefa-Johnson — who has more than 10 years of experience working in fashion journalism — as a “droid” and “not a fashion person,” claiming that his show had “broke the processor… When the computer can’t read the code.”
Later in the day, Vogue shared a statement on Instagram saying the magazine “stands with” Karefa-Johnson, calling West’s attack on her “unacceptable.” “Now more than ever, voices like hers are needed,” the magazine wrote. “And in a private meeting with Ye today, she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms.”
The statement from Vogue came after West called Karefa-Johnson “my sister” in his own Instagram post, said that they met for “two hours” and claimed that famed director Baz Luhrmann filmed the interaction, per Anna Wintour’s request.
Rolling Stone has reached out to Karefa-Johnson and Luhrmann for comment.
“We apologized to each other for the way we made each other feel,” West wrote. “We actually got along and have both experienced the fight for acceptance in a world that’s not our own.”
But Karefa-Johnson was far from the only person to find offense with West’s YZY line.
Among those to criticize his “White Lives Matter” shirts were Jaden Smith, who walked out of the show, and later tweeted, “I don’t care who it is, if I don’t feel the message, I’m out”; Dazed journalist Lynette Nylander also walked out of the show, writing “It doesn’t matter what the intention was … it’s perception to the masses out of context”; British Vogue editor Edward Enninful said the following day that the shirt was “insensitive, given the state of the world”; and Gigi Hadid, who deleted a comment on West’s Instagram, wrote, “If there’s actually a point to any of your shit, [Karefa-Johnson] might be the only person that could save u… You’re a bully and a joke.”
In true Ye fashion, West channeled his frustration after the backlash by having an Instagram tantrum.
West attempted to pull late fashion icon Virgil Abloh into his defense, insinuating that Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, had “killed my best friend,” and that “everyone’s got a right to an opinion [so] there’s mine.” (An LVMH representative told The New York Times that Arnault had “no comment.”)
And the Abloh mention is where Tremaine Emory, the creative director of Supreme, had to “draw the line,” calling out the rapper for his alleged disrespect for Abloh during his life and following his death.
“This time last year you said Virgil’s designs are a disgrace to the black community infont of all your employees at yeezy,” Emory wrote. “Don’t let me get into the things you said about v after his death.” In the post, Emory implied that West “didn’t get invited” to Abloh’s private funeral and that despite knowing he had terminal cancer, West “rode on him in group chats” and in interviews.
“YOU ARE SO BROKEN. KEEP VIRGIL NAME OUT YOUR MOUTH. KEEP @gabriellak_j NAME OUT YOUR MOUTH,” Emory wrote. “[You’re] not a victim, [you’re] just an insecure narcissist that’s dying for validation from the fashion world.”
But of course, West is not done talking. A recent post on his IG reads: “When I said war, I meant war.”
In perhaps the biggest repercussion to come from the stunt yet, Adidas announced that West’s partnership with the brand was now under review. (The YEEZY deal between West and adidas started back in 2013.)
“Adidas has always been about creativity, innovation and supporting athletes and artists to achieve their vision. The adidas Yeezy partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in our industry’s history,” an Adidas spokesperson told Hypebeast in a statement. “We are proud of our team that has worked tirelessly throughout our collaboration with Ye and the iconic products that were born from it. We also recognize that all successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values. After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review. We will continue to co-manage the current product during this period.”
West replied to the statement on Instagram, writing “FUUUUUUCK ADIDAS” and accusing the brand of stealing his work.
Sean “Diddy” Combs, who once made waves with his own fashion line Sean Jean, also took to social media to weigh in on West’s latest controversy through the lens that the racist rhetoric printed on a shirt extends far beyond the runway.
“I am not about to be addressing every last thing that’s going on in the world on the internet but the thing I do have to address is this ‘white lives matter’ t-shirt,” Diddy said in a recent Instagram video. “I’ve always been there and I will always support my brother Kanye as a freethinker. But the ‘white lives matter’ t-shirt, I don’t rock with it, you know what I’m saying? I’m not with it.”
He added: “Right now, all America has planned for us is poverty, incarceration, and death. So before I can get to any other lives matter – which all lives matter – but that Black Lives Matter, don’t play with it. Don’t wear the shirt. Don’t buy the shirt. Don’t play with the shirt. It’s not a joke.”
Meanwhile, instead of reflecting, West is still online boasting about the amount of attention he’s garnered from his latest offensive stunt. “I wanna just let everybody know there was also some fashion this week … it wasn’t just about my paradigm shifting t shirt,” he wrote in an all-caps false-start. “Just kidding, my tee shit on everybody’s showssss. Nothing happened but my t shirt. To the Arnaults that hire anybody that worked for me, remember my one t shirt took alllll the attention.”
He also made room to take a few more shots for good measure, including one at John Legend and Hailey Bieber, who backed Hadid in calling out West’s belief that Karefa-Johnson should have simply been honored to be invited to his show, adding: “And Justin, get your girl before I get mad.”
This story was updated on 10/4 to include a statement from Vogue supporting Karefa-Johnson and a new post from West regarding the editor and rapper meeting. It was also updated on 10/6 with Diddy’s comments.