PYER MOSS: ACTIVISM AND BLACKNESS IN FASHION
September 10, 2018
Fashion is about the moment. Historically, whatever is happening in culture, society, the economy and the news, typically inspires fashion designer’s creations. This was most evident when designer Kerby Jean-Raymond presented his latest collection for Pyer Moss (named after his mother Vania Moss Pierre who died when he was a boy) at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which is one of the first free Black communities in the United States during the 19th Century. Kerby grew up a few blocks away.
You see Jean-Raymond is not just a fashion designer, he is an artist and activist who aims to use his voice and platform to “challenge social narratives” and “evoke dialogue.” In the past, Pyer Moss has addressed the issues of police brutality and mental health in the Black community in the brand’s fashion collections.
Jean-Raymond describes the Pyer Moss brand as an “art project” or a “timely social experiment.” For this collection, he collaborated with visual artist Derrick Adams using bold, colorful graphic prints and family portraits on silk jacquard and organza. There was also a collaboration with FUBU (For Us By Us), the sportswear brand that was popular in 1990s in hip hop and urban circles. Pyer Moss also has a partnership with Reebok.
As the gospel choir of 40 performed between the white wood framed buildings, this New York Fashion Week collection decidedly paid homage to solidarity, ownership and representation—undeniably celebrating Blackness, Black Joy and Black Liberation. From a tank dress covered in over 200,000 Swarovski crystals featuring a portrait of a Black father holding his baby to a simple white t-shirt which read “Stop calling 911 on the culture,” the message was clear: American Also. In other words, Black Lives Matter, Black people exist, and we refuse to be marginalized or erased. Resistance is real and is even in fashion.