Pyer Moss Fall 2021 Couture Collection Is Making History, Literally
Black people are the culture, we have and will continue to define what is considered in through language, music and fashion, but we are also the most disrespected community globally. Fashion Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond has never delivered a collection that doesn’t defy high fashion norms through the amplification of the Black community. And Wat U Iz is no anomaly. The couture collection is a historical lesson and reminder, that Black people– we created it all. No high fashion designer has used their work as a vessel for change the way Kerby has.
The Fall 2021 Couture show is layered in high grandeur and historical significance. The show was held at Villa Lewaro the mansion of Madam CJ Walker— the first self-made millionaire in the United States. Madam CJ Walker had the house built in 1916 in Irvington, New York and it was designed by Vertner Tandy– the first African American Architect registered in New York. The home was grounds for leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and a gathering place for civil rights discussions. Over a century later and the world’s first Black Designer to show case at Paris Couture week, shows at this Italianate villa.
Kerby opens the show with former Black Panther Chairman Elaine Brown, the first and only woman to lead the revolutionary group. Ms. Brown speaks on liberation and reminds us of our power and glory through her historical lens.
The show’s stage centers 22Gz with an all Black Male Choir. 22Gz performs multiple records including Sniper Gang Freestlye, while models walk the runway. Each model wore literal statement pieces. The Traffic Light, The Super Soaker, The Portable AC, Peanuts, Hair Rollers, and the list continues. And perhaps my favorite part about the collection is how direct the message is. It’s obvious Kerby is not hiding through metaphor or abstract design– instead he chose concrete statements.
One of the last models wraps the show with the refrigerator– magnets spelling out But Who Invented Black Trauma? And that is means to a perfect ending. What is understood does not have to be explained and the explicit details of the show are what make it raw, beautiful and untainted by European measure.
The show is a symbol to our culture, its power is indestructible, a representation of the past and how we could never have risen to the place we are now without key figures like Madam CJ Walker, Elaine Brown and the library of inventors often omitted in our education system. And through all of its glory, the collection somehow is still a reminder of how much work still needs to be done and that is the art of it all.
Photos by Hunter Abrams