The rapper formerly known as Kanye West unveiled a surprise Yzy fashion show Monday in Paris, donning bedazzled flip flops and a black sweatshirt with an image of Pope John Paul II on the front and "WHITE LIVES MATTER" written across the back in big, white letters. He was joined by conservative pundit Candace Owens, who wore a matching shirt in white with black letters.
"Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam," Ye wrote in a since-deleted Instagram Stories post. "Now it's over. You're welcome."
The rapper also gave an interview to Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, which aired Thursday, saying his shirt merely stated something obvious.
During the fashion show, Ye also had model Selah Marley – Lauryn Hill's daughter and Bob Marley's granddaughter – wear one of the sweatshirts with a floor-length ponytail and oversized knee-high boots.
— Photos Of Ye (@PhotosOfKanye) October 3, 2022
Ye tells Tucker Carlson the shirt delivers 'obvious' message, calls criticism 'a setup'
In a wide-ranging interview with Carlson that aired in part on Fox News Thursday, Ye said his shirt delivered an obvious message and called backlash he's received "a setup."
"The answer to why I wrote 'White Lives Matter' on a shirt is because they do," Ye said. "It’s the obvious thing."
Ye, who wore a lanyard with a photograph of a fetal ultrasound during the interview, also accused model Gigi Hadid and Garage magazine fashion director and Vogue contributing editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson of criticizing him at the behest of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
“There’s a group mob," he said. "This Gabby girl and Gigi and these people, they would have never said anything negative unless they got the OK from (Vogue brand owner) Condé Nast, unless they got the OK from Anna. … It was a setup."
Ye went on to describe his detractors as "practically made in a laboratory."
"One of the things that they're really good at doing is being nice and being likable," he said. "They have people that are around them at all times telling them what to be afraid of. It’s not what to do and say specifically, it’s what to be afraid of."
Ye fires back after backlash
The sweatshirts were met with backlash from many in the fashion community, including British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful, New York Times director and chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman and Karefa-Johnson, who called the sweatshirts "deeply offensive, violent and dangerous." After Ye shared photos of Karefa-Johnson on Instagram, as he has frequently done with those he feels have wronged him, other fashion industry pros rushed to her defense.
Hadid referred to Karefa-Johnson as "one of the most important voices in our industry" and said she could "school that disgraceful man in more ways than he knows" in an Instagram Stories post. The fashion editor was recently named in the 2022 Business of Fashion 500 list of people shaping the global fashion industry.
"You're bullying a Black woman, in fashion, where we are so few - and for what?" commented photographer Campbell Addy, calling it "such a low blow."
In a tweet Tuesday, Vogue stood in solidarity with Karefa-Johnson and revealed the editor met with Ye in a private meeting, where she "spoke her truth in a way she felt best."
"She was personally targeted and bullied," the publication wrote. "It is unacceptable. Now more than ever, voices like her are needed."
Ye also confirmed the meeting in an Instagram post Tuesday. While the rapper said he felt like Karefa-Johnson "was being used like Trevor Noah and other Black people to speak on my expression," he said the two were able to patch things up.
"Gabby is my sister," Ye wrote. "We apologized to each other for the way we made each other feel. We actually got along and have both experienced the fight for acceptance in a world that’s not our own."
Ye's reactions continued the next day, when he called out Hadid by name, wondering why "we just chime in when we want to tear a Black man down for actually having a different political opinion."
He added: "And for all audience so outraged about my t-shirt, where was you when I couldn't see my kids? I went public in hope of public support at that time."
Selah Marley addresses backlash over wearing Ye's 'White Lives Matter' shirt
Following the controversial fashion show, Marley, who donned a "White Lives Matter" long-sleeve at the event, teased on her Instagram Stories on Wednesday that she and Ye are preparing "to move this conversation forward & provide the necessary clarity, depth & healing that we are collectively in need of."
Marley previously defended her decision to wear the controversial clothing on Tuesday. In a now-expired Instagram Story post, screenshot by Complex, the model fired back at her critics, calling them "stuck in a hive mind mentality."
"Witnessing someone break free from 'the agenda' sends you all into such a panic that you will do whatever it takes to force them back into the box that you feel they should exist in," she wrote. "You cannot bully me, manipulate me, or coax me into silence."
What else happened at the show?
Before the show Monday, Ye delivered a winding, lengthy speech mentioning ex-wife Kim Kardashian's 2016 Paris robbery, his former manager Scooter Braun, and complaining about past media coverage of his fashion shows focusing on late start times and models fainting on the runway.
"I am Ye and everyone here knows that I am the leader," he said, later adding: "You can't manage me. This is an unmanageable situation."
He continued at another point: "People feel like they have the right to come to my face and call me crazy, like it doesn't hurt my feelings, or like you don't have to be crazy in order to change the world."
'I'm an innovator': Ye defends bags display of Yeezy Gap collection
The rapper and fashion designer has made headlines in the last month for a public breakup with Gap. He told Vogue Business in an interview published Monday ahead of the show that he now plans on running Yzy as a vertically integrated business. "Even George Lucas had issues with Disney," he told the outlet. "And now we’re here, and Yzy is established on its own.”
On Sunday, Ye opened the Balenciaga show walking on the runway, where he was spotted arriving with his and Kardashian's children: North, 9, Saint, 6, Chicago, 4, and Psalm, 3. Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner were also in attendance. Ye also sat front row at Sunday's Givenchy show.
Monday's show featured a Sunday Service-esque performance from a group of young children – including his and Kardashian's eldest daughter, North – as models began showing off Yzy designs. Prior to the show, West shared a mood board for the show that included old photos of teenage versions of Kardashian, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell, Irina Shayk, Bella Hadid, Lauryn Hill, Candice Swanepoel, Amelia Gray Hamlin and Emily Ratajkowski.
"Everyone here has dedicated their lives to creating and being a part of something," Ye said at the show. "Sometimes a cut will be slightly off, a stitch could be slightly off, but we did change the look of fashion over the past 10 years. We are the streets. We are the culture. And we will not be bullied or treated differently than you've treated any other fashion show."
Ye's history of controversial comments
The rapper is no stranger to controversial comments. In 2018, he apologized for saying slavery "sounded like a choice" in a TMZ Live interview. Last year, Ye said he still supports Donald Trump despite not voting for him in 2016 and running against him in a failed 2020 campaign.
In a 2020 interview for WSJ Magazine, Ye shared his thoughts on the outrage that followed his support for the former president.
"I’m a Black guy with a red (MAGA) hat, can you imagine? ...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," he said. " 'This is your place, Ye, don’t talk about apparel. This is your place, Ye, you’re Black, so you’re a Democrat.'
Ye says he's never read 'any' book: 'Reading is like eating Brussels sprouts'
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ye tells Tucker Carlson why he wore 'White Lives Matter' shirt to PFW