Pyer Moss SPRING 2019 RTW The Black Brooklyn Renaissance

by Charlotte Smith

Pyer Moss Why This Show Was so Important

Is Brooklyn in the house?  Without a doubt at the Pyer Moss SPRING 2019 READY-TO-WEAR  runway show during New York Fashion Week.  Held in a building with history and collaborating with Pratt Institute alumni. The borough was having a Brooklyn renaissance moment with a message for the people.

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Pyer Moss SS19 Reviews — “Last night, Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond brought the fashion set to Brooklyn's Weeksville neighborhood for a show that was just as impactful as its location … "See us now?," one look asked, while another t-shirt read, "Stop calling 911 on the culture," referencing the many recent news stories of white people calling the police on black people for no just reason … During a time when the fashion industry (and entire world, for that matter) is still struggling to combat racial inequalities, a black designer staging such a powerful and unapologetically black show is exactly what New York Fashion Week needed. And it's something that deserves everyone's attention.” -Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper’s Bazaar

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Watch the Pyer Moss interpretation of The Black Brooklyn Renaissance Runway.  The designer has a message pay close attention or you might miss. See Us Now!  The rain fell like baptizing the audience, as the choir sang to black angles coming down the runway.

Pyer Moss SPRING 2019 Black Renaissance

Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond spoke to The New York Times about the collection, which he presented in  Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood at the Weeksville Heritage Center, a historic site commemorating one of the first free African-American communities of the 19th century.

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Pyer Moss SS19 Reviews — “In choosing Weeksville as the setting for his Spring/Summer 2019 collection, “American Also, Lesson Two,” Jean-Raymond isn’t just reminding us of history, he’s reminding us that black people haven’t just thrived, but flourished for decades—and it’s a reality that the majority of people just haven’t chosen to pay attention to. He pokes fun with the notion of visibility with graphics that say “See Us Now?” on his clothing. A choir sang several songs taking the audience through decades of black music, from James Ruffin’s 1966 hit “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” and eventually segueing into the Fast Life Yungstaz’ “Swag Surfin’.” Here, it’s not about everything that’s still wrong—it’s standing in solidarity with everything that’s all right, an inward look at how far the culture has come. It’s a universal late-pass issuance to those who are just starting to come around to the labels, figures, and artists that have inspired generations of black creatives. There are even cheeky graphic T-shirts with the phrase “If You Are Just Learning About Pyer Moss, We Forgive You” emblazoned on the back.” -Jian Deleon, Highsnobiety

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“I had 20 people last season, but this I time I saved a bit and stepped it up,” Smith shared. A 40-person gospel choir scored the style-driven evening.

Jean-Raymond had been pondering the current landscape of African-American life while making of this collection. He came across a copy of the The Negro Motorist Green Book in his research,  A guidebook first published in the 1930s that served as a tool for black travelers in Jim Crow–era America.

“It got me starting to imagine what the African-American experience would look like without the constant threat of racism,” said the designer.

He enlisted fellow Brooklynite and artist Derrick Adams to bring his vision to life. He commissioned 10 paintings that were woven throughout the collection. There was a painterly image of a young black man grilling burgers printed on a simple white T-shirt, and a black page boy and flower girl at a wedding on an oversized silk shirt.

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Pyer Moss SS19 Reviews — “The inspiration was finding beauty in the every day lives of African Americans. “What does a mundane Saturday look like when we’re just left alone? What is black leisure wear?” the designer explained backstage … Several things may come to mind, perhaps athletic wear or "urban" wear as the apparel category came to be known in the dawn of the hip-hop era. But in Jean-Raymond's hands, it's something else entirely: lively print dresses ready for a Hollywood Hills pool party, sharp suits made for peacocking, and the kind of single-sleeve sunshine yellow dress that could light up any room … The designer said backstage that his creative spark came from researching the Negro Motorist Green Book, a Jim Crow-era publication that “showed black people how to stay safe while traveling in segregated America.” -Booth Moore, The Hollywood Reporter

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The most memorable piece from the collection was a black father lovingly cradling his baby, rendered in glittering beads on a shift dress. “Just black people doing normal things,” was how Jean-Raymond put it.  The top screams black fathers matter.  This is art interpreting life.


Jean-Raymond is as committed to reclaiming the legacy of the black and brown designers who came before him.   Last season it was Cross Colours. This season, 1990s streetwear label FUBU, or For Us By Us, partnered on a capsule. “We wanted to highlight designers that weren’t seen,” said Jean-Raymond.

“These companies grossed hundreds of millions in their prime, but weren’t recognized in the same way that brands like Donna Karan were because they were considered urban, not fashion.”

Pyer Moss SPRING 2019 RTW The Black Brooklyn Renaissance

The black fashion designers are here like cannonballs with the skills of any contemporary design house.  They also want to talk about what it means to be black in the fashion world.  Can you dig it?

Will the fashion world open up more and embrace it?

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