Is Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean-Raymond NYFW’s New Golden Talent?

The designer debuted his first project with Reebok and a poignant ready-to-wear collection

To see the full Pyer Moss Fall 2018 collection, click here.

Few young designers can pack a front row with chief critics from every major fashion publication. Fewer still can get a standing ovation from the audience. Last night, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss did both.

The evening was big before it began. For one, it was a return to the runway for Jean-Raymond after taking a season off (with good reason—MoMA had commissioned a piece from him for its Items: Is Fashion Modern? exhibit). But the night also marked the debut of a multi-year partnership with Reebok, a first for the athletic company, which is looking to enter into the realm of fashion.

Titled “American Also” (he’s considering making this an ongoing series which will explore underrepresented communities in America), the ready-to-wear collection drew from the largely unknown origins of cowboys, who were originally black men. Jean-Raymond spent months researching their story and their style, the latter of which developed for functionality—and often out of necessity—as they did not have access to new clothes.

The designer wove his concept into a nuanced and fresh collection, with subtle updates on cowboy boots, Western shirt details, patch pockets, and denim, all mixed with sportswear, and some stunning satin pieces. As chic as it all was, what truly made the show outstanding was the live choir presiding over it that lent the outing both context and a sense of gravitas.

“Love what he’s doing, love the message, love his story,” Dao-Yi Chow of Public School said before the show. “We’ve met a whole bunch of times, so we’ve been able to talk beyond fashion. I just like where his head is at.”

The idea of “American-ness” as a socio-political theme carried over to Jean-Raymond’s Reebok line, which debuted after a quick dimming of the lights. Sportier elements such as tracksuits and sweatshirts were given a stylish touch through the exaggeration of elastic waistbands and drawstrings and outright fashion elements (if you’ve ever wanted a floor-length fur coat that says “Reebok” on the back, your time is now). Emblazoned across many pieces was the phrase “As USA As U.” A reminder of inclusivity in a time when the rights of many are being challenged.

Between his ability to touch on relevant social issues through his collections and the fervor created at his after party (The Standard, where it was held, actually had to turn people away, though guests who did manage to get in partied with a joy not usually seen at fashion soirées), Jean-Raymond has created a rare feeling of excitement while expressing a politically conscious mindset. The CFDA should take note—he might be the man who reinvigorates New York fashion.

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