Pyer Moss' Couture Debut Celebrates Black Inventors
“Black imagination is this world’s greatest technology,” Kerby Jean-Raymond wrote of the collection.
On Saturday, Kerby Jean-Raymond presented Pyer Moss’s very first couture outing, a collection titled “WUT U IZ.” Held at the sprawling estate of Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female self-made millionaire, the show was, in its entirety, a celebration of Black innovation and excellence.
Walker got her start selling haircare products for Black women door-to-door, a venture that evolved into a full-blown beauty empire. Her estate, located in Irvington, New York, was designed by Vetner Woodson Tandy, the first registered Black architect in the state. Now a historic landmark, the mansion — dubbed Villa Lewaro — served not only as Walker’s personal abode, but also a gathering place for the Black community. In fact, Walker wanted the property to serve as a reminder of what Black Americans could achieve.
Continuing in a historical vein, Jean-Raymond crafted a 25-look collection referencing Black inventors and their innovations. Unveiled to a lively audience of invitees and members of the public lucky enough to snag tickets (an unexpected development after the show was postponed due to inclement weather), a series of elaborate, wearable sculptures paraded down to the runway to a soundtrack of live strings, drums and vocals by Brooklyn rapper 22Gz.
There was a draped gown topped with a towering lampshade hat, dripping in crystal fringe (a nod to Lewis Latimer, co-inventor of the electric lamp). A cape made of hot rollers, worn over a sumptuous silk robe, referenced Solomon Harper, creator of the heated styling tool. John Standard, who patented the first refrigerator in 1891, was embodied in a particularly powerful look: a refrigerator “dress” adorned with letter magnets reading, “But who invented Black trauma?”
“We are an invention of an invention,” Jean-Raymond’s show notes read. “Inside of the creation of race, we made blackness. Uprooted from home and put in a foreign land, we made culture…Black imagination is this world’s greatest technology.”