A rain delay could not put a damper on Kerby Jean-Raymond’s haute couture debut for Pyer Moss, which finally walked on Saturday afternoon.
The original time slot assigned by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture might not have worked out (not that the crowd assembled in Irvington, New York on Thursday minded — it was quite the party), but Haute Couture Fashion Week was willing to wait. Identical goes for the friends, who got here collectively at Madam C.J. Walker’s Villa Lewaro a second time over the weekend, desperate to witness trend historical past.
With the Wat U Iz present, Jean-Raymond grew to become the primary Black American to current a couture assortment as a visitor of the Chambre Syndicale. And the designer used the chance to pay homage to an extended, typically ignored historical past of Black innovation.
Referencing an inventory housed within the Library of Congress, Jean-Raymond confirmed a collection of Pyer Moss-ified, three-dimensional wearable sculptures, every representing a well known product invented by a Black individual — from the automated site visitors sign (Garrett Morgan) to the moveable air conditioner (Frederick Jones) to the Tremendous Soaker (Lonnie Johnson). “These are innovations by Black individuals and I wished to reintroduce them to Black individuals, reverse the erasure which will exist — and to troll a bit of bit, too,” he informed Vogue.
Underneath, there are some elegant evening wear propositions: a pale blue cutout gown with a crinoline skirt (part of the horseshoe look, a tribute to Oscar E. Brown), a white off-the-shoulder shirtdress (styled with a folding chair, a nod to Nathaniel Alexander) and a long-sleeved pink ruched bodycon dress (paired with an oversized beaded-fringe lampshade hat, to represent Lewis Latimer’s electric lightbulb).
As with everything Pyer Moss, every element of the production was considered. There was the backdrop of Villa Lewaro, once the home of the country’s first self-made female millionaire (designed by Vertner Woodson Tandy, the first African American architect registered in the state of New York) and a known gathering place of the Harlem Renaissance. Before the models stepped onto the runway, Jean-Raymond invited Elaine Brown, former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, to speak to the audience. A performance by 22Gz — who, like the designer, hails from Flatbush, Brooklyn — followed.
In the show notes, Jean-Raymond wrote: “We are an invention inside of an invention. Inside of the creation of race, we made blackness. Uprooted from home and put in a foreign land, we made culture. And when they tried to strip our humanity, we made freedom so tethered to each other that it still shapes the world today.”
“The stories the world tells us about us are about pain,” he continued. “The stories we tell about each other about our own lives are about how grandma loved us with bible verses and lemonade, how bloodlines never defined who our aunts and uncles were, how the house was always big enough to take in everybody we loved. We hold stories of glory in our bodies. Black imagination is this world’s greatest technology.”
The designer elaborated on this backstage; speaking with WWD‘s Booth Moore, he said of the collection: “I’m always reversing the erasure of Black people in the larger conversation around the African diaspora. But we need to evolve that conversation every time. I wanted this to be new, imperfect and fun. And some of the pieces are super hilarious to me, like the peanut butter one.”
That humor manifested in other ways. Ahead of Take Two, the team released a limited-edition commemorative T-shirt, featuring an image from the original show date, of staff working to dry the rained-out runway as an umbrella-covered audience watches.
Also, you may have heard about the herbal remedies Jean-Raymond personally handed out to friends huddled beneath the tents to flee the rain on Thursday: Elle.com reviews that these are literally a part of a collaboration with the Black-owned hashish firm Viola, which goals to advertise social fairness within the business, that the designer hopes “[benefits] the communities that have been harmed by drug enforcement previously,” Jean-Raymond informed Nerisha Penrose.
“At our greatest, we create area and instruments for individuals who will come subsequent, understanding that we should pay it ahead,” the present notes learn. “What’s going to you allow behind? What’s going to they construct from what you’ve executed? Or have you ever not but discovered and are solely constructing for your self on this world.”
See each single look in Pyer Moss Couture 1 within the gallery, beneath.