Kanye West is a trendsetter if ever there was one. He usually goes for the most outrageous and flashy of fashions, which is rare among rappers. Bold and envelope-pushing looks are what we’ve come to expect from the star who boasts legions of fans that follow in his fashionable footsteps, buying anything that he wears.
He headlined the last night of the 2011 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California with a performance that will go down in the event’s history. Not for his fashion but for the set’s stirring visuals, the moving modern and ballet dance routines and Kanye’s passionate rendition of his top hits as well as his declaration that Coachella is “the most important show since his Mom passed.” He dedicated the show, which Hollywood Reporter called one of the greatest hip hop sets of all time, to his mother.
But it seems all the blogs could talk about is what shirt he chose to wear. He performed in a colorful print tunic from Celine’s Spring 2011 collection. It is industry-known knowledge that he is a fan of the brand, but wearing it has caused quite a stir as the tunic comes from the women’s collection.
Women certainly wear men’s clothing all the time and “menswear-inspired” is one of the most popular phrases in fashion at the moment. Now that the roles have been reversed, it is frowned upon and well-known editor Derek Blasberg even went as far as to tweet “Sorry ladies, but the best dressed girl at#Coachella is hands down @KanyeWest. Homegirl rocked spring Celine on stage. Twerk it out, Ye!”
Now certainly, this is taking it too far. To go back in history, men have been wearing “feminine” attire like kilts for ages and their sexuality has never been questioned. 80’s musicians like Rick James wore skin-tight jeans and makeup and yet they had flocks of female fans waiting for them after every show.
So why is it that Kanye West is all of a sudden labeled “effeminate” and made fun of because he chose to wear a women’s shirt by one of his favorite brands? His tunic in no way looks feminine and certainly does not fit him the way a woman’s would.
Is this just another “Chastise Kanye” moment or are men in hip-hop held to another standard of masculinity that makes it nearly impossible for them to wear Women’s clothing (that’s not even effeminate) without criticism? Does our generation have a problem with tolerance?