The internet is a playground, and this week, we have seen celebrities utilize it to their benefit to torment each other, and unfortunately, bystanders. As fashion month comes to a close in Paris, Kanye West presented a surprise collection to industry insiders and arguably left attendees confused, garnering a split response from social media users. This has led to a flurry of attacks against Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, a respected figure in fashion.
On October 3, West sent his uniformed dark and nude tones, intricate silhouettes, and oversized garments down the runway. However, the article that’s the most controversial is a shirt reading “White Lives Matter,” which has many people feeling unsettled and disappointed in who many call “one of the greatest rappers of all time.”
“He was trying to illustrate a dystopian world in the future when whiteness might become extinct or at least would be in enough danger to demand defense… but the danger is that this very premise, the idea that white supremacy is in danger of extinction,” fashion editor-at-large Gabriella Karefa-Johnson shared through her Instagram story via a screenshot from a message thread.
Karefa-Johnson is a success story in the industry, and as she critiqued West (like most did — see the New York Times article titled There Is No Excuse for Ye’s ‘White Lives Matter’ Shirt), she was subjected to harassment led by the rapper on his Instagram account.
Becoming the first Black woman to style a Vogue cover, and now working consecutively with the high fashion publication has only amplified Karefa-Johnson’s career. Yet, before her stint at Vogue, she was and continues to be, one of the most sought-after editorial stylists. She has worked with brands like Calvin Klein and Stuart Weitzman, was a part of the BoF 500 class of 2022, and was also recently named Stylist of the Year at ESSENCE Fashion House. Her resume is lengthy and her accolades are well-deserved.
In retrospect, her success is necessary for an industry where Black curators have often silenced their goals and dreams for what’s available. For, Karefa-Johnson, her unapologetic approach to fashion is what’s created immense admiration for her work, and she stands as an illustration of hope for stylists and writers who dream to reach new heights in the industry.
Yet today, while many were off the hook for criticizing West’s show, he targeted a Black woman who works at a company where he seemingly has a favorable relationship. Most recently, the rapper walked in the brand’s NYFW event, “Vogue World,” and was captured in a selfie this September with Vogue’s EIC.
While Karefa-Johnson and her employer have remained silent, the fashion industry has rallied around the editor, showing support and condemning West’s actions.