A 22-Year Old Female Military Officer Brought Kanye West To Tears

Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Rex/REX USA
When Kanye West cried at the end of his Yeezy 2 fashion show during New York Fashion Week, it was in part because of the work of 22-year-old naval officer named Erika Lawson. She told the story of working with West on the show to i-D magazine, from getting the call the day before the show to the end of the presentation to her assessment of West's collection.

Lawson recalled the surprise of getting the call. West and his collaborator Vanessa Beecroft had reached out to her college, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, seeking military officers to include in the show. They had more than enough men, but the college only has an 8% enrollment rate for women, so it was a little hard to find a graduate who was available. Luckily, Lawson said, she had the day off already.

Amazingly, Lawson said she arrived to find that not only was she expected to be a model in the show but that West wanted her to teach all the other models to march instead of walk while wearing his military-inspired collection. "Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid were sitting in the audience bleachers watching us, and we were standing there and expected to come up with a marching routine and then teach it to them," Lawson said. "It was two hours before the show was supposed to start."

Obviously that didn't work out, but West wanted her to teach the models marching commands anyway. They put Lawson at the front of the show, making her the first model to come out, which is pretty awesome.

"After the dress rehearsal, Vanessa came backstage and told me that when Kanye saw me walk out with the models he was so moved he had tears in his eyes," Lawson said. "He was really touched to have a female military officer involved in his show and calling the commands."
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As for the wearability of his clothes, Lawson said she'd love to have a pair of his boots in combat, proclaiming them "more comfortable" than the uniform boots soldiers are issued. Perhaps there's a government contract in the future for Yeezy's fashion line.
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