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Kanye West collaborates with Demna Gvasalia on album launch spectacle

By Rachel Douglass

9 Aug 2021


Image: courtesy of Yeezy Gap

Musician and designer Kanye West has been hosting listening parties and live stream presentations for his upcoming album Donda over the past week, in his typically outlandish style. The events have been in collaboration with Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia, hired as the creative director.

The spectacle began with an album launch show that left the artist feeling dissatisfied, prompting him to continue working on the album for another two weeks. The long-term experience involved lengthy live streams capturing Kanye in the simple room he infamously rented in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium. Fans could tune in to see the artist interact with prominent guest stars, do his daily exercises or take long naps all with no sound. There were also shots of him fine-tuning the highly anticipated album that he began teasing mid-July.

Imagery shared of Kanye’s plain room shows Balcengia shoes and dressing gowns scattered around the pad. Gvasalia has played a big role in the performance aesthetic, injecting the designer’s typically dark unconventional style into the atmosphere of the stadium and bringing to life an eerie presence to fit the music.

Taking to the stage for what is thought to be the finale, West was kitted out in an Autumn 2020 Balenciaga jacket and full-face covering, that he seems to have not removed since the beginning of the extensive lead up to what is said to be his most personal album yet. Hundreds of streetwear-clad dancers and a tracksuit wearing choir surrounded Kanye, who danced and vibed by himself on a bright spotlighted stage.

The experimental and alternative styles of the two creatives are a good match, with both artists being big lovers of the odd and eccentric. Their unusual design preferences seem to mesh well when creating a visually absorbing performance experience.

Ex-wife Kim Kardashian also sported Balenciaga, in a form-fitting suit complete with a balaclava, blending in with the ambiguous vibe emitted from the performance itself. She shared clips of the show on her Instagram, including a haunting video of Kanye seemingly hovering high above the crowd while gleaming lights shone up at him.