Quinton Burnett | Staff Writer
There’s a historic and culturally significant neighborhood in New York called Weeksville. That neighborhood produced Kerby Jean-Raymond, who produced a clothing line called Pyer Moss. That neighborhood, her son, and his clothing line came together for a show possessing beauty in not only clothing and models, but message.
Pyer Moss Spring/Summer 2019 (SS19) was showcased in Jean-Raymond’s native Weeksville, a neighborhood which holds the distinction of being one of the first “freedmen” communities in the United States. Jean-Raymond, a black designer, utilized the history of the neighborhood and venue to create a collection centered on displaying the “mundane” aspects of the African-American experience. Jean-Raymond quoted the warm weather range’s inspiration as “the African-American experience…without the constant threat of racism.”
The label’s SS19 offerings include pieces featuring tongue-in-cheek references to current issues facing African Americans, depictions of the everyday African American experience, and a defibrillator-esque capsule collection for an old childhood friend. It is a leisurewear-heavy collection designed for a group who seemingly can’t catch a moment of leisure.
Jean-Raymond’s newest range featured many standouts, but among the more memorable pieces was a short-sleeved T-shirt marked with the phrase, “Stop Calling 911 on the Culture,” clearly referencing the rash of unnecessary police calls made on black people minding their business (e.g.; BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, ID Adam, etc.).
In keeping with the collection’s “do it for the culture” motif, Jean-Raymond collaborated with former streetwear giant FUBU. He created a streetwear-heavy capsule collection intended to breathe new life into a company almost forced out of production for receiving the designation “urban fashion.”
In addition, up-and-coming painter Derrick Adams was commissioned for 10 works that weave beautifully and seamlessly in and out of the collection. Adams’ paintings, all of which feature black families taking part in everyday activity, were the true standout pieces of the show. One piece spoke volumes to Raymond’s message. This piece was a crystal-embellished gown which prominently displayed Adams’ portrait of a father holding his newborn baby.
The importance of Pyer Moss’ most recent show should not be lost on anyone, though the show was not as outwardly brash or radical as some of Moss’ other shows (Spring/Summer 2016).
In an industry, a country and a world struggling to combat racial inequality and struggling harder to let black people simply be black, Kerby-Jean Raymond has chosen to stage political protest through clothing. Better yet, Kerby-Jean Raymond has chosen to take his stand by simply being black.