Mr. Galliano is the former Dior designer who was fired after a drunken antisemitic rant in a Paris bar, and who was later subject to a court trial (in France, inciting racial hatred is a crime), fined and forced out of fashion until he had gone through rehabilitation and made years of amends.
But therein lies the rub. In a typical ambassadorial arrangement between brand and celebrity, a famous person is under contract to be the “face” of a label, which could mean appearing in company advertisements or simply wearing its products on the red carpet. But the relationship between Ye and Balenciaga — which is really the relationship between Ye and Demna — is a complex mix of muse, collaborator, customer, fan, friend and celebrity that has been stewing for over seven years. It is more akin to a creative romance than any sort of professional agreement.
According to one insider, Ye has been known to refer to himself as Demna’s straight husband. And, as with any marriage, it is possible the Demna-Balenciaga-Ye connection is so intertwined and interdependent that they are not sure how to disentangle it.
(Multiple calls and emails to the brand were not returned.)
Ye and Demna met not long after Vetements, the upstart fashion label led by Demna and his younger brother, Guram Gvasalia, began to make waves in Paris in 2014. The label shredded the old codes of beauty and couture with a jolt of furious energy that caught the eye and imagination of Ye, who began talking up Vetements, and especially Demna, to anyone who would listen — including editors at Vogue.
Ye then enlisted both brothers to consult on Season 1 of his Yeezy brand, which made its debut at New York Fashion Week in February 2015. Only a few weeks later, he sat in the front row at a variety of Paris Fashion Week shows, including Dior, in a hoodie bearing the Vetements logo.
Ye and Demna shared a semi-apocalyptic aesthetic made to challenge the sacred cows of luxury and a sense of themselves as outsiders come to rewire the power structure of an antiquated industry for the era of the street. Not long after Demna was named the creative director of Balenciaga in late 2015, Ye, in the ultimate fox-in-the-henhouse move, tweeted “I’m going to steal Demna from Balenciaga.”