Pyer Moss honors Black Lives Matter at stunning NYFW show


Pyer Moss honored Black Lives Matter at New York Fashion Week, creating a show that’s earning praise as one of NYFW’s most powerful experiences.

Black Lives Matter. That was the message from Pyer Moss, using the medium of a fashion runway show for an experience that Harper’s Bazaar heralded as “the most important part of New York Fashion Week.”

Even the site of Pyer Moss founder Kerby Jean-Raymond’s NYFW show had meaning. Rather than stay with traditional fashion show locations, Jean-Raymond dared to take the runway to the Weeksville neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Known as one of the first free black communities in the United States, Weeksville was founded only 11 years after New York abolished slavery. The location had special meaning for Jean-Raymond, who is a native of the community.

The designer chose to unveil his Spring 2019 collection at the Weeksville Heritage Center. The center, which was created to save Weeksville’s African-American culture, gave Pyer Moss the opportunity to honor black culture.

Kerby Jean-Raymond expressed the significance for the show’s location ahead of time on Instagram:

Calling Jean-Raymond “the conscience of the fashion community,” the New York Times pointed out that the designer not only “dared to drag his Manhattan-centric audience out to Crown Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood near where he grew up.” He also took the bold move of choosing to put the runway outdoors and featuring a gospel choir of 40-strong to “sing his collection out.”

To mark the fifth anniversary of his label, Jean-Raymond shared that he had 20 people last season but this time, he “saved a bit and stepped it up.”

Among the highlights of the Pyer Moss New York Fashion Week show, a collaboration with the FUBU (“For Us, By Us”) streetwear label earned praise along with the strength of Black Lives Matter slogans.

“Stop calling 911 on the culture,” urged one T-shirt’s slogan.

BROOKLYN, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Model walks the runway during Pyer Moss – Runway – September 2018 – New York Fashion Week on September 8, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

The Daily Beast noted that the guiding principle of Pyer Moss is described as “spiritual sportswear — a hybrid of going to church and going to the gym.” But whether used in casual wear or more formal, the designs that emerged consistently had a message.

“See us now,” urged a broad waist sash.

To complete the show, Jean-Raymond chose Stevie Wonder’s “Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” with the words, “Why must my color black, make me a lesser man?  I thought this world was made for every man, he loves us all, that’s what my God tells me, and I say it’s taken him so long, because we got so far to come.”

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Like New York Fashion Week itself, taking time to explore the layers of meaning was worth it. From the artistry of the styles to the show’s location to black culture’s gifts to the design world, Pyer Moss’ runway show will long be remembered.