The phrase épater les bourgeois (to scandalize or flabbergast the respectable middle class) became a rallying cry among the Parisian avant-garde in the late 19th century. But these days, some things are too sacred to épater in Paris, such as the verities of Black Lives Matter, and other things are too deplorable to defend, such as white lives.
From the New York Times fashion section:
Not from Ye. And not from his new YZY collection.
By Vanessa Friedman
Published Oct. 4, 2022
PARIS — Yeezy is dead. Long live YZY. Stage three of the ambitions of Ye — the artist formerly known as Kanye West — to dress the world has begun.
Presumably that was supposed to be the takeaway from the surprise show of Paris Fashion Week, held off-schedule in an empty office tower just down the road from the Arc de Triomphe.
Though it turned out to be only nominally a fashion show and more like “The YZY Experience”: a chaotic mess of self-justification, confessional, bone-picking and messianic ambition, with a “White Lives Matter” shot of shock and provocation that overshadowed the clothes on the runway. …
Except this leader was wearing an oversize shirt with a photo of Pope John Paul II and the words “Seguiremos tu ejemplo” (“We will follow your example”) on the front, and “White Lives Matter” on the back — a phrase that the Anti-Defamation League has called hate speech and attributed to white supremacists (including the Ku Klux Klan), who began using it in 2015 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement....
As to why he did it, backstage Ye declined to provide any theoretical framework. “It says it all,” he said, of the shirt. But what exactly does it say?
That he truly believes he can appropriate the language of racial violence with irony? That someday the power structure of Black and white will be reversed, and since he says this collection is the future, that’s the world he envisions? That Ye gets a kick out of pushing everyone’s buttons? That he wants to see how far he can go and doesn’t really care about, or think about, the collateral damage in the meantime (including to those children singing at his feet), despite the violence this could feed?
By the way, Kanye’s clothes without messages on them are genius-level ugly.