Pyer Moss Had the Most Surprising NYFW Show so Far

It wasn't necessarily the clothes that stood out last week at the Pyer Moss spring collection New York Fashion Week show, though they were striking—sportswear-inflected ensembles, with perforated leather jackets, angular cuts, and mesh leggings. Pieces were sometimes anchored by white boots, splattered with red paint, scrawled with names.

Rather, it was a somber 15-minute video playing in the packed, darkened room before models walked the runway. The montage compiled blunt clips of police violence against black people that have punctuated the national discourse with disturbing frequency over the past year or so. Eric Garner's video was there, as was Oscar Grant's, and the clip of a McKinney, Texas police officer kneeling on the back of a young, bikini-clad girl, interspersed with interviews from activists, fashion industry people, and some of the victims' family members. Throughout the show, audible gasps were reportedly heard from the audience.

New York-native Kerby Jean-Raymond, the brains behind both the collection and the video, said he wanted to use the opportunity as a platform to discuss racial inequality and police brutality, and even considered omitting the collection entirely.

"For as long as I have this platform and for as long as people are going to listen to me—I'm going to take a stand on something and this is something that is important to me," Jean-Raymond told the Huffington Post. "I wasn't even going to show the collection. I wasn't 100 percent sold on showing the collection. I wanted to just show the video, open the doors and let everyone out."

According to news reports, Jean-Raymond's investment in the video and collection was personal. Raised in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he said he was stopped-and-frisked about a dozen times before the age of 18, Jean-Raymond was also a target of some of the same type of violence depicted in the video while he was at college. After he was accused of a hit-and-run, Jean-Raymond described that he was pulled over, "yanked out of the window, and I had my head slammed in the back of the trunk," he told reporters after the show.

"And then, you just start hearing, 'He's resisting, he's resisting.'... And they just kept on slamming my head, slamming my head," he added.

Jean-Raymond said he hoped the video might have open up more opportunities in the fashion world for young black people.

"If one person walks out of here today and is just nicer, or gives an opportunity... there are so many influential people in that room upstairs. If one person decides that I'm going to give a black kid a job now because the narrative I've been seeing on TV of him being a thug may or may not be true, I did my job," the 28-year-old designer told the Post. "I changed one life and one life might change another life—and that's how the world changes. Little by little."


SS16/// Menswear for Women. Pyer Moss + Gregory Siff. #pyermoss

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