Recently on Twitter, I kept seeing a post with fire red glossy gloves on hands hugging a blue pole. One tagged location was in East Village, New York and the next one in Brooklyn. After seeing many posts about a billboard with hands holding a bold yellow boxed tote, I had to know who cultivated these spaces prominent with primary colors. The picturesque billboard was created by Kerby-Jean Raymond; an activist and pioneer in Black history.
Kerby Jean-Raymond is the founder and creative director of New York-based label Pyer Moss. With this brand, Jean-Raymond makes the world engage in seminal moments and people ask themselves vital questions. Jean-Raymond began his career freelancing, which led him to the creation of Pyer Moss in 2013. His 2016 spring/summer season debuted with a powerful voice which is the energy he continues to bring each collection.
The Pyer Moss Spring/Summer 2016 show was very interactive and direct with its display of police brutality. The runway featured gunshots and screams paired with techno beats as it presented a line of reimagined sportswear. Walking down the runway, models with white-covered combat boots had splashed blood all over, and these shoes stole the show away. What better encapsulate the atrocities of police brutality than to put it on a shoe? The choice of a combat boot shows absolute strength and power but the blood splatters show that in the face of violence, the shoe becomes powerless. I believe this ode speaks volume to the victims of police brutality who have this shell of power but, like the combat boot, become powerless to violence.
After his collaboration with Reebok in 2018 and a following runway show, Jean-Raymond was known globally as bound for greatness. At the beginning of his professional career in 2018, Jean-Raymond won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Swarovski Award after emerging strong in its Autumn/Winter 2018 collection. Later that year in December, Jean-Raymond won Collaboration of the Year for his work with Reebok. Jean-Raymond has also made history with his Paris 2021 spring couture show by becoming the first Black designer on the Paris couture week calendar. Controversy sprung from his claim to be “the first Black designer in Paris” due to Patrick Kelly. Patrick Kelly was indeed the first American designer admitted to Paris, but he was specifically admitted to the Chambré Syndicale and presented to the Fédération de la Haute Couture. Kerby Jean-Raymond was scheduled on the Haute Couture calendar, so he was indeed the first Black man to have a couture show. How beautiful this moment of history was.
The billboard post was an announcement of Pyer Moss’s debut bag collection, which dropped April 21. The bags in Jean-Raymond’s newest bag collection consist of two different shapes: trapezoidal, a hand and a combination of both designs. The bags will be available in black or yellow. After seeing the collection come out, I could see the unity amongst the hand and the billboard. This energy is extremely prominent throughout the bag collection.
His 2021 Haute Couture show spoke volumes with voluminous silhouettes of objects that all paid homage to overlooked Black inventions. Not only is his presence a stamp of history, he uses this moment to bring back the ones who never got their spotlight. Even the locations of billboards and posters of the debut luxury bag collection were placed in high crime areas of New York. This redefines what society says about glamor. Jean-Raymond has become a mogul in the fashion world not just because of his accomplishments, but for his humbleness in using his platform to showcase his creativity, lead and tell stories to inspire.
By Melissa Taylor, Staff Writer