‘We have come tonight to say they can't hurt us no more.’ Kerby Jean-Raymond salutes the Black artists and activists who paved the way.
It was the opposite of intimate at Pyer Moss’s Fall/Winter 2019 runway show on Sunday night. 2,000 guests showed up to Kings Theater in Flatbush, Brooklyn— a concert hall in the neighborhood where Pyer Moss designer and founder Kerby Jean-Raymond grew up—to watch Sister: The Third Collection. The night officially christened Pyer Moss as the hottest ticket of New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2019, after Jean-Raymond took a hiatus for one season fresh on the heels of winning the 2018 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
The show continued Jean-Raymond’s mission to give credit where credit is due—by giving the black people who contributed to American pop culture their moment in the spotlight, a spotlight that was unjustly denied in the past due to the institutional racism that plagues this country. Sister: The Third Collection was the final part in this trilogy of collections titled American, Also.
The show opened with a poignant speech by There Will Be No Miracles Here author Casey Gerald: “We have come tonight to say that they can’t hurt us no more. They’ve been telling us how the cowboys were John Wayne white. They’ve been telling us all our families were cracked up and cracked. They were even telling us they invented rock ‘n’ roll. We know the truth. We know it. We know a queer black woman, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, made rock ‘n’ roll. We know Little Richard made rock ‘n’ roll. We know Jimi Hendrix made rock ‘n’ roll. We ain’t tryin to hear those fake ass stories anymore. We’re telling our story…”
Afterwards, the curtains rose to reveal The Pyer Moss Drip Choir Drenched in The Blood, the gospel choir that provided the show’s soulful soundtrack that included Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy,” Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” before taking a more contemporary turn with Cardi B.’s “Money.” Jean-Raymond ushered in the new era of Pyer Moss with a collection that truly demonstrated his range through streetwear-tinged puffers made for his Reebok collaboration, elegant and ethereal eveningwear looks that seemed like something Diana Ross would have worn in the ‘70s, piano fanny packs and paintings-turned-prints by recently exonerated artist Richard Phillips that paid tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and the designer’s signature boxy color-blocked leather jackets. One sleeveless t-shirt carried an especially important message: “VOTE OR DIE.” The show closed out with the gospel hymn, “Lord, Take Me Over Again.” Jean-Raymond appeared on the stage after the finale, and the crowd cheered in a standing ovation, crowning him the king of New York Fashion Week.
Following the spectacle, the crowd flooded the lobby for the after party in an exuberant mood. The message of the night was clear: “We ain’t your niggas anymore, baby,” as Gerald said earlier in the evening. “We are free.”