Kanye West has officially made his runway debut.
The Yeezy founder, 45, opened Balenciaga’s spring/summer 2023 show during Paris Fashion Week over the weekend, modeling an all-black, combat-ready look that included a baseball cap and heavy-duty utility vest both emblazoned with the word “Security.”
The runway itself, staged outdoors at the city’s Parc des Expositions, was comprised of what appeared to be an ankle-deep expanse of mud.
West’s four kids – North, 9, Saint, 6, Chicago, 4, and Psalm, 3 – whom he shares with ex Kim Kardashian were reportedly in attendance to cheer him on, along with Kylie Jenner.
Other celebs in the crowd included Doja Cat and “Euphoria” star Alexa Demie, per Elle.
Later in the presentation, other models like Bella Hadid emerged in makeup that made them appear bruised and beaten. The dramatic look came shortly after Hadid’s headline-making escapade closing the Coperni show, modeling little more than a spray-painted design that had been applied in real-time in front of attendees.
Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, prefaced the collection with the idea of personal identity being a “battlefield.”
“One needs to have courage and persistence to truly assume their identity and who they really are,” read part of his statement. “And the more you try to be yourself the more you get punched in your face … The challenge is to get up and keep walking towards your true self after you have been beaten up and knocked down.”
The mud-laden backdrop for the presentation, meanwhile, was designed by conceptual artist Santiago Sierra, known for controversial projects that interrogate social inequality. For one of his most infamous works – titled “160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People,” executed in 2000 — he paid a group of heroin-addicted prostitutes the cost of a hit of the drug in exchange for allowing him to tattoo a line across each of their backs.
Of Sierra’s set, Gvasalia explained it as being “a metaphor for digging for truth and being down earth.”
Among those who reacted to Ye’s first runway modeling gig was legendary designer Betsey Johnson. The “All of the Lights” rapper shared a screenshot of a text message he received from the iconic 80-year-old fashion designer to his Instagram Stories.
“I felt a little bit emotional when you walked,” she wrote. “It felt really special.”
West replied, “After all the battles Even this year Pretty amazing I’m emotional too.”
“We have more battles ahead of us,” he added. “But we’re going to win God is on our side.”