All hail the baddest and most regal bitch on the planet. May we forever find ourselves in her good graces. Photo via Vogue.com
How am I a fan of Pyer Moss? Let me count the ways.
From its insistence on embracing Blackness, “heritage, and activism”; to founder and designer Kerbito Jean-Raymond’s dedication to authentic clothing, designed for the culture by the culture. To promo vides like THIS? Honestly they can’t be beat.
So yeah, yeah. I will admit, I am a fan girl.
That is why I was so, so excited when it was announced that Jean-Raymond and his luxury fashion label would be included in the Fall 2021 Couture shows. It was a long overdue addition of both a Black American designer and a Black luxury label into a space that has unabashedly profited off of the culture, likeness, beauty, innovation of the Black body for too long.
And that is how, this past weekend, on a beautiful, sunshiny Saturday, to a standing room only crowd, Kerbito Jean-Raymond became the first Black American designer ever to be included on Chambre Syndicale’s Paris Couture Week Calendar in its 150 year plus history. Pyer Moss once again debuted to history.
Originally set to take place on Thursday, July 8, 2021, the show was pushed to Saturday, July 10, 2021 due to unforeseen, torrential rain that blew through New York in a crazy way, first delaying and then finally postposing the show. But Hurricane Elsa’s antics just made the anticipation of the Saturday event all the more palpable and the official event that much more exciting.
It was held at Villa Lewaro, Madam C.J. Walker’s palatial estate in Irvington, New York. A significant setting, not just because Walker was an African American philanthropist, activist, and the inventor of the the hot comb, hair growth serums, and the Walker method. But also because she was the daughter of slaves and is on record as the first female self-made millionaire in America. She too was a Black innovator for the people by the people which spoke to the main thrust of the show… but we’ll get to that later.
The crowd was a mixture of very important guests, fashion elites, and even Pyer Moss fans and loyalists who were able to be added to the already extensive guest list due to the date change. After the storm, Jean-Raymond added an extra 100 tickets to the list for fans that might want to attend. It was rumored however, that the number of fans that actually signed up for a chance to score an extra ticket to the event numbered in the thousands – to the tune of 9,000+.
Fashion Shows and the collections they feature all have a theme or an inspiration – a common thread that tells the story of the designer, the house, and their head space as they created the looks. The theme is supposed to get those in attendance in the right mode to consume what they will be viewing and the show note’s, given to guests upon arrival, detail why the theme is significant.
Jean-Raymond and Pyer Moss have always, since inception, been unapologetically Black. Everything that he has created. Everything that he stands for. Everything that has entered the world from the luxury label has always been an ode to or a call back to Blackness and Black culture. In an except from the show on Saturday Jean-Raymond said, “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, it was safe to assume that this show would be a celebration of the Black innovative spirit and Jean-Raymond DID NOT DISAPPOINT!
Pyer Moss Fall 2021 Couture was an ode to 25 Black Inventors whose masterpieces spoke to Jean-Raymond’s lived experiences – like the Super-Soaker water gun, the cell phone, the air conditioner, chess, and even peanut butter. Elaine Brown, former Chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, activist, and writer opened the show with a speech detailing the history of Black people in America and our struggle for social justice. Then rapper 22Gz took to the stage and performed while dancers moved in time to his beats and Pyer Moss’ 25 stunning looks took to the runway.
Each of the looks highlighted objects that we use in modern day society that were invented by Black people that the rest of the world might not know about or openly accept. (I say the rest of the world because my Mother and Father taught my siblings and I our history and and I’m assuming your’s did too). It was an amazing architectural and avant-garde show that featured beautiful clothes the explored the phenomenal realization of everyday products. To me, it was a wonderful way to showcase history in a new and futuristic form which is what the couture runway is all about.
These looks are a few of my favorites:
The show has garnered a lot of positive reviews and rightfully so. There were, however, some that found issue with the show saying that it reminded them of Moschino, or that it was too campy, or that it wasn’t really representative of what couture is “supposed” to be. Unfortunately for them though, I think those critiques are too shortsighted and fail to take into account the thrust of the show and the story the clothes were made to tell.
To me, the folks making these arguments are missing the importance of the show, what it represents, and therefore what Jean-Raymond was illustrating with the looks. This was clearly a reintroduction of Black greatness and innovation not only to the Fashion world but all who happen to consume the collection in any form – social or owned media. It was a reminder of what Black people have given not just America and Fashion but the World. It is a celebration of the history that was being made on that day and a reminder of all the amazing things there are still to come. “These are inventions by Black people and I wanted to reintroduce them to Black people, reverse the erasure that may exist—and to troll a little bit, too,” said Jean-Raymond in a post show interview.
I loved the show and if you look at it through the proper lens I think you will too.