I can’t believe it’s real: in July, after Kanye’s APC collaboration dropped, there was a rumor floating around that Jay Z had been in meetings with Barneys about a possible team effort. It was here that I imagined what might be contained in this then-hypothetical crapsule collection, including but not limited to the “Pet Roc” and a pair of pricey, basic-ass bluejeans you’re supposed to sag so they look “rap”, a hat tip to Kanye’s $150 white “Hip-Hop” t-shirt. Nobody believed me the first time around, so go bask in both my hilarity and prescience now, because it’s my birthday (it really is) and I deserve those pageviews, goddammit.
So I was a little off; Jay Z for Barneys is real, but for their annual holiday collection in an unnecessary and exhausting melée similar to the “Gaga’s Workshop” concept of yore. Basically, the items will be limited editions by other designers like Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler, and not a played out paean to rappers’ style, style which is typically built upon status-beacon luxury goods created by other, actual designers. Like Kafka’s metamorphosis but with more swag.
This news comes on the heels of Kanye’s comments that Hedi Slimane “has some nice $5,000 jeans in there, it’s some nice ones here and there, some good shit here and there, but we are culture,” referring to rappers as the new rock stars. Press outlets are spinning this comment as a claim that Hedi “copied” him, dots I’m not necessarily connecting, although it doesn’t do much to curb my opinion that while celebrity (rapper or otherwise) attention may be a huge help in selling units, it creates a certain dissonance with quality and a focused point of view. Kanye wants to be fashion, an ethos which serves only to create obedient clones in his image, followers of his admittedly controversial my-way-or-no-way persona. We call these people hypebeasts, not exactly aesthetic pioneers.
There’s no way to keep smug celeb mugs out of our advertising pages and TV commercials, but can we stop pretending that they occupy the design (or mostly even curation) chair the way your “average” career designer does? Just because someone can afford luxury doesn’t mean that they’ve got relevant new ideas that people want to wear, and it’s even worse when we’re expected to delusionally picture Yeezy or Jay slaving over a Cray-Pa-stained sketchpad in the dead of night. Puh-leeease.
Until the day that Drake announces a “Marjan Pejoski’s Room” collaboration with Bergdorf’s, we’re all set.