CFDA Winner Pyer Moss pays homage to African-American culture in SS19 collection

Even the location was rich in history

Kerby Jean-Raymond recently presented his SS19 runway collection for Pyer Moss at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn native debuted tidbits of cultural artwork and incorporated hip-hop heavyweight, FUBU into the collection — the 90s era brand founded by Daymond John. The homage was in appreciation of pioneering streetwear brands.

During the 19th century Weeksville, a historical site in Brooklyn, became one of America's first free black communities. The venue represented Jean-Raymond’s commitment to activism in the black community and was a key element in bringing together his vision for the collection. The venue highlighted his celebration of the black experience while remaining true to the brand’s DNA.

During Fashion Month both female and male models were seen on the runways of several designers  — a theme that Jean-Raymond has always exhibited in his collections.

The cast of models were all African-American, which was a nod to the industry’s need for diversity. The essence of the men’s collection teased the audience with elevated streetwear designs and bold statement pieces.

The aesthetic of the women’s collection was a subtle juxtaposition of regal and provocative, yet, casual and effortless looks.

Ebonee Davis opened the show with a flowy, high-collared, white silk gown. The model has been known to discuss the pressures of being of being a model of color and considers herself an activist in the fight against the mistreatment of black models.

Another model wore a sheer, blush fishnet dress with feathered details.

One of the male models donned a bright yellow hooded trench coat paired with matching trousers and a branded t-shirt. Another male model wore a lush green, silk pajama set showing a black family — an innovative take on the classic pajama-set.

The look was designed by up-and-coming artist, Derrick Adams, who Jean-Raymond commissioned to create 10 new art pieces for the collection. The portraits, which feature black families partaking in everyday activities, were converted into several pieces, including a Swarovski-embellished gown portraying a father holding his baby.

A powerful message was emblazoned on a slogan t-shirt that read “Stop calling 911 on the culture,” and "See us now?" was stitched across a male model's cummerbund. The collective theme of the show was to highlight systematic oppression of African-Americans and honor black culture.

The inspiration? Finding beauty in the everyday lives of African-Americans.

“My work since has been to essentially bring back empathy into our lives,” Jean-Raymond said in a Hypebeast report. “It’s for people who don’t see black people as equals to take a second look."

The 31-year-old has been known to use his brand as a platform to “challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue.” In the era of protesting social injustice, the Haitian-American designer has been a forerunner in intrinsically linking himself and his designs to politics.

The streetwear brand is no stranger controversy, though.

In 2016, Jean-Raymond caused a raucous during New York Fashion Week when he opened his SS16 runway show with a documentary on the black community and police brutality.

Pyer Moss was founded in 2013 and has quickly become a cult favorite in the fashion industry. The menswear and womenswear brand has always rooted itself in activism with an impactful overall message — Black Lives Matter.

The recent CFDA winner has been widely supported by celebrities including Tracy Ellis-Ross, Lala Anthony, Issa Rae and Usher among others.

By Edeana Mombrun

Donald Lawrence