Kanye West, conservative pundit Candace Owens and at least one model were seen sporting shirts with “White Lives Matter” printed on the back during his surprise Yeezy Season 9 fashion show in Paris on Monday.
Before kicking off the runway portion of the night, West gave a speech while wearing the T-shirt and referenced several topics, but did not clarify or give attention to his use of the “White Lives Matter” slogan. The phrase, also referenced as “All Lives Matter,” became popularized by white supremacist groups and far-right organizations in 2013 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Kanye wearing matching White Lives Matter shirts with Candace Owens
This picture is insane ☠️ pic.twitter.com/hJG0xtFmXA
— Kurrco (@Kurrco) October 3, 2022
West has made similar fashion statements in the past; famously sporting Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” during his ill-fated 2020 presidential run. Just like that incident, many fans are chalking West’s political statement on the runway as publicity for the show, while members of the far-right are seizing the attention as their own.
At the time, West told the Wall Street Journal the controversy surrounding the MAGA hat was “classist” as he believed the backlash was correlated to the expectations America had placed on him as a Black man from Chicago: “It reminded me of how I felt as a Black guy before I was famous when I would walk in a restaurant and people would look at you like you were going to steal something. ‘This is your place, Ye, don’t talk about apparel. This is your place, Ye, you’re Black, so you’re a Democrat.’”
Other portions of the show featured a choir of children, reportedly from West’s Donda Academy, and West’s daughter North modeling all-black outfits.