Pyer Moss understands the power of pageantry.
The brand sent nearly one hundred members of a Tabernacle choir on stage at Kings Theatre, it forced fashion to bow to the power of Weeksville and FUBU, now it is upending expectations once more with its first couture presentation.
Kerby Jean-Raymond, Pyer Moss founder and creative director, became the second Black American designer invited by Paris Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to participate in Haute Couture fashion week this year. His appointment followed that of Patrick Kelly’s who was invited in the 1980s.
Always the disruptor, Jean-Raymond claimed his seat at the table by changing its location. He opted not to travel to Paris and present via livestream.
Jean Raymond ushered the biggest names in Black fashion, art, media and entertainment to Villa Lewaro, the estate of beauty tycoon Madam C.J. Walker on Thursday July 8. Shortly after luminaries, stylists and editors including Tracee Ellis Ross, Bethann Hardison, Law Roach, Misa Hylton, Jidenna, Jessica Andrews, and Julee Wilson were assembled in Irvington, New York tropical storm Elsa set in.
Water being couture’s kryptonite the show was suspended but the vibes carried on. As the heavens spewed drops of inconvenience Black folk did what they’ve always done.
They made do.
An impromptu party erupted where attendees united in their commitment to the designer. They vowed to be in their seats whenever the garments glided down the runway. Their rally of support was inspired by the designer’s cool demeanor. He casually announced that “the energy ain’t it” and he had “a better idea.”
The frazzled pressure of ensuring that “the show must go on,” appeared completely absent. No reports leaked about sightings of him berating interns or cursing out organizers over the precipitation.
He remained focused because he knew the value of what he had to share wouldn’t disappear at the end of a Google calendar segment.
This was the man who sold tee shirts proclaiming “If you are just learning about Pyer Moss, we forgive you.” He knew that the world’s eyes and ears would remain open because what he had to say mattered.
And as for those who couldn’t make the rescheduled show? He filled their seats with his supporters by opening up tickets to those outside of the “industry” bubble growing anticipation for the series of looks he produced.
Saturday afternoon, after a stirring introduction from Elaine Brown, Jean-Raymond sent looks down the runway that spoke to the power of Black ingenuity. He honored Black inventors of revolutionary items including the gas mask, padlock, traffic light, fire escape, hot comb, folding chair, cellphone, air conditioner, electric lamp, and curtain rod.
He stitched his attempt to foil systemic Black erasure onto his work and the effort was just as impactful on Saturday as it would have been Thursday.
We could all learn something from Jean-Raymond’s approach. As Black businesses spring up at a swift pace, assimilation into industry status quotients is tempting but that’s not the only way to success.
Even if you haven’t won a CDFA award and you don’t have a deal with Reebok, if you miss your “moment,” you can make another one on your terms, on your timeline, using your voice.
If 2020 has taught us anything it is that two hours, two days or two years won’t diminish the merit of your ideas. Creativity can triumph over schedules because true talent is worth waiting for.