At Wednesday’s CFDA Fashion Awards, Kid Cudi strutted down the red carpet in a custom bridal gown. He maintained a deadpan gaze as he posed for photos. His pink hair forever seeped into our memories. As expected, social media swiftly responded. The rapper had once again subverted gender norms.
However, aside from the swarm of media attention, the look stood out. A white tuxedo and thin white lace clung to his torso. An ankle-length skirt curved out from his hips. Jewelry completed the look. Cudi wore cream-colored shoes bedazzled with crystal flowers and a necklace pendant. He stood adjacent to the designer, Eli Russel Linnetz. Their hands interlocked.
Initially, Linnetz gained notoriety as a director and photographer for Kanye West. He has since designed clothing for prominent celebrities, such as A$AP Rocky. The two were expressionless as they held hands.
The talented rapper again drew inspiration from Kurt Cobain, a subversive rock icon. In 1989, Cobain had worn a floral-print dress to a Nirvana concert. In an appearance on SNL, Cudi wore an identical floral-print dress to pay tribute to the late grunge musician.
When asked about negative publicity, Cudi expressed indifference. “Hmm, I wonder why they feel that way… F**k ‘em,” he told HBO Max’s The Shop: Uninterrupted. At the CFDA awards, Cudi’s black eyeliner and pink hair mirrored Cobain’s punk aesthetic.
The look also subtlety reflects his faith. As he posed for photos, a black Jesus pendant necklace hung just below a neck tattoo. During struggles with depression and addiction, Cudi sought refuge in Christianity.
In an Instagram post, he said his “faith in the light” helped him recover from depression. “I just try to believe God has something better for me,” he said. Whether intentional or unintentional, the necklace conveys the centrality of faith in Cudi’s life.
Beyond his unique struggles, however, the look encourages a growing number of gender nonconforming males. Cudi has fused the worlds of rap and punk, all while subverting gender norms. He perpetuates a promising trend of gender nonconformity among male celebrities. And, despite the inevitable outrage, he just doesn’t care. So punk!