For the third album listening party held at Chicago’s Soldier Field Stadium on Thursday, West reenacted his wedding vows to ex-wife Kim Kardashian who wore a white Balenciaga haute couture wedding gown for the occasion.
Already the master of chaotic music releases, West has a history of changing the name, song lists and dates of his new albums at whim, including 2016's The Life of Pablo that underwent alterations after it was released. So, presumably, in West’s universe, having three listening parties for the same album is standard fare. Re-marrying the ex in the process? Ditto.
For this party for the album, Kanye called on Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, to once again oversee the visual impact of the show. Gvasalia dressed Kardashian in a wedding gown from his Balenciaga couture show held in July. As the finale for the widely acclaimed collection, it is a starkly simple wedding gown with raised shoulders and an unadorned veil.
The couture show by Gvasalia was the first by Balenciaga for over 50 years and was hailed for its strict beauty and deep sophistication. While some would have basked in the applause, Gvasalia instead shifted gear, and joined forces with West, proving he has lost none of the ‘fashion bad-boy’ attitude that made his name at Vetements.
As Kardashian tottered on to the stage on Thursday during No Child Left Behind, the final song of the night, the dress was far too long for her despite her towering heels. But it was a dramatic, almost surreal, moment. West stood face to face with his ex-wife, her face shrouded under the opaque veil, as they re-enacted their wedding vows, against a backdrop of a recreation of his childhood home.
Given that the album is named after his beloved mother Donda West who died in 2007, this felt autobiographical in the extreme.
Kardashian's appearance also prompted many fans to speculate whether the former couple, who divorced in February after six years of marriage, were getting back together.
It also raises the bar even higher for a West performance. Known for odd, at times bizarre behaviour, West is adept at capturing attention while broadcasting his message. Case in point, at the other two listening parties, West wore a red jacket from his vaulted tie-up with Gap, which has yet to release a single item, while offering attendees Covid-19 vaccines.
With no absolute release date yet on the horizon for Donda, we can expect more from West and his collaboration with Gvasalia. Having already proffered saints and brides, the burning question now is, what will this unpredictably brilliant duo do next?