Kanye West has been compared to Pink Floyd, Steve Jobs, and even Mozart. (That last article drew a lot of fire in its comments section, of course…as well as a few lucid arguments from music majors who backed their opinions up with historical facts and classical theory.)
Whatever you think about the man and his music, you have to admit that he’s been influential—in pop culture at large, as well as in the realm of menswear. GQ ran a retrospective on West’s style today, which points pretty clearly to the fact that (ethical qualms with floor-length fur aside) the rapper/producer’s present-day wardrobe choices are his wisest, and most relevant to the rest of us, to date.
See above. West’s tough, monochromatic minimalism seems right in step with the bluntly reduced electro thump of his new album, Yeezus, out today. In his recent NY Times interview, West says a lamp by minimalist architect/designer Le Corbusier changed his entire point of view. He also says it takes him a fraction of the time to get dressed these days—proving what we’ve known for a while now: Throw on a leather jacket with anything, from a T-shirt to a tie, and you’re good to go.
The image up top is from West’s performance on Saturday Night Live last month—one of the darkest, most jarring, and most fascinating things that’s happened on that show maybe ever. (Well, there was this.) We can’t exactly show the video here, but if you can handle some controversial political topics, click here.
Here’s a few more live music performances, some from Kanye, some from SNL, and some from 20+ years ago, whose style tips you can take to heart today:
West and Jay-Z performing their Watch the Throne single ‘Otis’ at the MTV Video Music Awards. Kanye reps DENIM ON DENIM, with a touch of AMERICANA in the form of a hanky in his back pocket. (Oh yeah, and the giant US flag-inspired backdrop, designed by Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci as part of the duo’s album art.)
Kanye West famously wore a women’s blouse by Céline at Coachella a couple years ago. Bold move—and we won’t fault him for it. For the rest of us though, vintage grunge heroes like Pearl Jam, promo’ing and dress-rehearsing for SNL in 1992, are probably better role models for summer FESTIVAL STYLE.
[Intro image via Gorilla Vs. Bear. Video clips © NBC and MTV. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]