Pyer Moss and the Power of Innovation
How Kerby Jean-Raymond Transformed Haute Couture
Global fashion week season is well underway, and it is an electrifying time for participants and onlookers alike to revel in the newest innovations in the fashion world. As NYFW has just come to an end and LFW begins, I excitedly report that this year’s NYFW was the second most diverse in history, following Spring 2021. I am eager to see how the industry will continue to celebrate designers of color for their longstanding legacy of culture shifting, and am reminded of the brilliant Kerby Jean-Raymond and his historic achievement during last year’s Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. I felt inspired to share an article I wrote on the event last summer to my Medium page and uplift Jean-Raymond and his brand, Pyer Moss, once more. If you haven’t heard the news, or would love to revisit, enjoy this brief article on the history-making Black designer from New York:
Kerby Jean-Raymond, the founder and creative visionary behind Pyer Moss, received an official invitation to this year’s Paris Haute Couture Fashion week. The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the entity that focalizes the fashion capital of the world, oversees the esteemed fashion week. The Fédération includes three bodies, or Syndicales, including the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
This particular Chambre Syndicale’s invitation makes Jean-Raymond the first Black American designer to achieve this accomplishment. In league with the trailblazing Black designer Patrick Kelly who was the first American invited to show designs by the Fédération in 1988, Pyer Moss importantly paves the way for all Black and POC owned fashion houses to break into the world of couture.
What is couture?
Let’s get into it. This term is frequently conflated with high fashion or exclusive pieces, however, it is much more specific than that. According to Oxford, couture fashion is the “design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client’s specific requirements and measurements.” Clothing deemed as haute couture must satisfy highly particular requirements determined by the Fédération and are considered of the highest quality. Very few designers have the honor of toting this distinguished title. Kerby Jean-Raymond is the only Black designer in history to be invited to show couture and be awarded this specific status (a conversation on diversity for another time).
Jean-Raymond hosted his historic show at Villa Lewaro, the home of legendary Black inventor and entrepreneur Madame CJ Walker. In keeping with the theme of Black innovators, he brought the inventions of Black creators to life through his designs. From the intentionality and research behind every concept to the smallest details on the smartly decorated nails, Kerby Jean-Raymond weaves creative ingenuity into every aspect of his art. The Pyer Moss couture show featured pieces inspired by inventions such as the traffic light, fire extinguisher, pressing comb, and typewriter (a personal favorite).
These pieces flawlessly embodied the concept of wearable art. Pyer Moss unquestionably brought Black culture into the haute couture conversation, executing the true meaning of inclusive fashion. While the industry attempts to catch up to the conversation of inclusive fashion, Black designers are light years ahead in merging both culture and creativity through their timeless designs.