Freckled-face, afro hair and 5-feet 7-inches, sophomore Gordonnay Gaines modeled in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season Four fashion show that was held on the lawn of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York City on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Gaines, a business management and marketing major, said she has always seen herself as a tomboy and only decided to go into modeling because her aunt continually told her to do so.
Through the support of family and friends, Gaines has been modeling since sophomore year of high school. She has worked as a commercial model, on the runway, in Fashion Week and now in West’s recent show.
She said that her cousin and agents sent her information about the Yeezy show, but was surprised at how many models were there. She stood in line for two hours until a man pulled her out and led her to a room, where about 20 girls had to provide their name and phone number, and pose for a picture.
“It just feels like a good atmosphere because I’m usually the only person in the room with an afro when I go to castings and auditions, so it was a good feeling to see everyone have the same type of hair as me. Even if it was different, it was just nice being surrounded by other African American women,” Gaines said of the audition process.
According to an article in The New York Times, West’s casting call specifically asked for “multiracial women only,” which was followed by outrage by some critics. Gaines said that people should appreciate that Kanye actually did this.
“I didn’t think it was such a big deal if he meant other ethnicities as well because you have to think about the fact that his children are multi-racial so he’s obviously going to do something for them,” Gaines said. “He always says the media is always going to portray something different about him so it’s like whatever, he accepts it.”
When Gaines was informed via email that she was chosen to model for the show, she rushed out of her English class to head to the city. She auditioned the weekend before the show and was informed that she was chosen the day before the fashion show.
This Yeezy show kicked off fashion week by presenting a collection of the predictable West looks, which included models strutting down the runway, wearing T-shirts, bra tops, pale tight-knit dresses, and hoodies, according to a US Magazine online article.
Once there, Gaines was one of many models who stood in the grass, surrounding the triangular-shaped runway, wearing tight sheer flesh-toned body suits and spandex looks.
The heat caused some models to sit down and even led to Gaines falling during the show. She explained that while their backs were against the sun and they were given plenty of food and water, the heat caused her to fall, but she got right back up with the help of the models surrounding her. She added that she heard a model say that she should just sit down, but Gaines continued to stand for the rest of the show.
Attendees included Desiigner, Pusha T, Virgil Abloh and the Kardashians, according to The New York Times.
Robin Nagel, a senior English major with minors in criminal justice, philosophy and sociology, said that while there might be critics to West’s casting call, she thinks that a designer is allowed to select the models whom they think best represent their brand and if, for, West, it means multiracial models then good for him.
“I think it’s also special because I don’t think there’s too many other designers who would actually put all these women together,” Nagel said. “It’s no lie that New York Fashion Week does seem to herald models like Kendall Jenner or Gigi Hadid and now all these girls have walked in a Yeezy show. Like how much better does that get?”
Gaines added that she chose Seton Hall because of its proximity to the New York City. While her professors do not know she’s a model, she said she is willing to make sacrifices for her passion, whether it be leaving her English class to model for West or taking her freshman spring semester off to model.
Nisha Desai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.