Looking Back At Kanye West’s VMAs Performance Outfits

Brooklyn (also, WORLD), get ready! Kanye West is performing at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, helping break in Barclays Center for its very first major awards show. Yeezy joins KAWS and Lady Gaga for the history-making 30th VMAs to perform “Black Skinhead,” making history of his own by officially tying Madonna as the artist with the most VMA performances—come Sunday, August 25, Yeezus and Madge will be neck-and-neck with seven total. In honor of Ye’s momentous return to the VMA stage and long history with the show, we took a look back at his previous performance outfits.


Kanye West performs at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Kanye today is larger than life, but even Kanye circa 2004 had a big VMA debut, performing a medley of chart-toppers from College Dropout—”Jesus Walks,” “All Falls Down,” and “Through The Wire”— with legendary Chaka Khan. The MC reworked his signature look at the time, a pink polo with the collar popped, for the occasion, opting instead for a striped Pepto Bismol pink button-up, pink satin tie, a black velveteen suit, and a big ol’ smile.


Kanye West performs at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Kanye’s next turn at the plate was in 2005 with another feature: Jamie Foxx. Appropriately, the two performed in matching black and white suits with satin peak lapels and aviator shades. Guaranteed gold digger bait. It’s clear Ye still hadn’t evolved into the hyperfashion-conscious West we know today, but the growth in swag from ’04 to ’05, College Dropout to Late Registration, is MASSIVE.


Kanye West performs at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

For his 2007 performance of the Graduation banger, Daft Punk-sampling “Stronger,” Kanye went for the full-on tuxedo (no cummerbund, though). Not only that, on stage, he accessorized with white-framed sunglasses and short black leather gloves. How Uncle Karl of you, Ye!


Kanye West performs at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Here’s where the real shift happens. Right around 808s & Heartbreak. Right around this 2008 VMA performance of “Love Lockdown.” This is the era of Kanye: The Louis Vuitton Don, of Kanye: Martin Louis The King, Jr. This is Kanye at his most fashion-y (thus far in the timeline) with a tweed, two-button, two-pocket, notch lapel blazer and trousers set. Also, a CRISP white tailored shirt with the perfect collar and (of COURSE) that broken heart lapel pin.


Kanye West performs at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

West closed the 2010 VMAs with one of his most memorable performances to date: a full-spectrum live rendition of his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track “Runaway.” It started off bare with solo Yeezy clad in head-to-toe red working an immaculate white soundboard in the center of a dimly lit stage. It quickly erupted into blinding white light, ballet dancers, Pusha T in a salmon suit, and Kanye in his element.


Kanye West performs at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Most recently, Ye hit the stage alongside Jay Z (then, with the hyphen) for the duo’s Watch The Throne anthemic summer cut, “Otis.” The two played up the Americana aesthetic of their video with Jay in a white tee, jeans, and Timbs, and Yeezy in a dip-dye denim look we’ve affectionately termed ombré chambrayAir Yeezy 2 sneakers, and too caught-up in the show, we ALMOST missed it.

2013: ???

What will Kanye West wear to perform at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards?
Photo: Getty Images

That brings us to today and the Kanye that will grace the 2013 VMA stage. Will it be kilted Givenchy Kanye? Margiela Mask Kanye? Straitjacket KanYeti? Since he’s performing “Black Skinhead,” will he reprise the studded leather jacket he’s worn for the song on SNL and at Governor’s Ball? Will he wear the Red Octobers again? Or pieces from his A.P.C. capsule collection? OR preview pieces from that 100-piece unisex collection he’s rumored to be working on?? There’s no way we’ll be able to guess, but we’re going to bet it won’t include shutter shades. Until the 25th!

Don’t miss Kanye West’s performance on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards when the show airs live on Sunday, August 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn!


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