Kanye West wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt Monday during Paris Fashion Week’s Yeezy runway show. And so did his conservative-pundit pal Candace Owens.
Ye’s long-sleeved black T-shirt with bold white writing on the back served one purpose immediately: getting outlets to write about Ye’s presentation. But when Owens’ long-sleeved white version joined the mix, with the same message rendered in black type, the story got more complex.
Each shirt bore the image of a pope. Owens’ had Pope John Paul I, whose 33-day tenure at the Vatican was among history’s shortest, while Ye’s showed Pope John Paul II, the long-tenured pontiff who died in 2005 and was canonized as a saint in 2014.
Both shirts had the words “Juan Pablo” at the bottom — Ye’s had a “II” as well — and up top, the Spanish words “Seguiremos Tu Ejemplo”: “We will follow your example.”
And people on social media Had Thoughts, from tweets about how the duo was “living rent free in a bunch of Leftist heads right now” to remarks about how they were “standing in solidarity for ignorance” and “You don’t have to be white to uphold white supremacy and anti-Blackness.” On Twitter, there were many more comments in line with the latter comments than the first one, with the ratio running in the other direction on Truth Social.
“Seeing Ye and Candace both in that shirt hurts my soul. Whatever nuance there was as part of his fashion show pales in comparison to seeing someone who is so politically destructive and reprehensible standing there with Ye, emblazoned with that phrase,” the “Watching the Throne” podcast account tweeted, reminding people that there was a fashion show going on too.
Only 50 people were reportedly invited in to see the Yeezy Season 9 presentation, a.k.a. YZY SZN 9, but anyone who wanted to could tune in for the live stream on the yzyszn9.com website. Now the site shows only a blob of digital snow.
Notably, the “White Lives Matter” visual came a day after West’s modeling debut. The rapper-entrepreneur actually did his little turn on the Balenciaga catwalk Sunday in Paris, armored up in a boxy, all-black outfit featuring an oversized cargo jacket and oversized pants.
“Ye playing too much Roblox,” one commenter wrote on Ye’s TikTok post from the show.
The rapper’s bold, focused stride on the runway — through a darkened sort of muddy moonscape scene, no less — drew the most attention.
“Ye on a mission,” one commenter wrote on TikTok.
“How I left the store as a kid while hiding a piece of candy in my pocket,” said another.
But at least somebody was paying attention to the fashion.
“Imagine,” they wrote, “tryna find ya phone in that thing.”