Who: Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss
What: American, Also, a documentary about Pyer Moss
Why We Care: One of the most coveted invites of last year’s Spring-Summer New York Fashion Week was the Pyer Moss runway tribute to rock pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The show took place at the Kings Theater in Flatbush, Brooklyn—hometown to Pyer Moss founder and designer Kerby Jean-Raymond. It was another reflection of how Jean-Raymond has been using his platform in fashion to challenge the status quo and to send a message to people who are often excluded from the fashion world that they are seen.
It’s obvious that fall 2020’s NYFW won’t go on as planned as the global pandemic rages on. However, Jean-Raymond is getting ahead of the curve with a creative alternative that promotes social distancing and also deep thought. Instead of a standard runway show, fashion enthusiasts can expect a drive-in-fashion experience (without a new collection, alas) that will coincide with the premiere of American, Also, a documentary that chronicles the two years that led up to the Pyer Moss Rosetta Tharpe spectacular.
“It’s always been our mission to show the amount of thinking and laboring that goes behind putting together a collection—we’ve been slowing down the speed of how much we produce and improving the quality of what we produce throughout the years,” Jean-Raymond told Vogue. “This film aims to show the love and care our entire company puts into every single moment we create and will show that we appreciate fashion as an art form and communication tool that we’ve used to embolden a community around us.”
The film features behind-the-scenes footage from the show spliced with archival footage related to Flatbush as Jean-Raymond narrates.
“The thesis was created to take elements of popular American society and show how black people had a hand in them,” Jean-Raymond says in the trailer. “So many of us, when we get opportunities and huge platforms, the first thing we do is leave. Slowly but surely, I’ve been finding my way back . . . now we’re finally home.”
He continues to discuss how Rosetta Tharpe, a black queer woman, was a pioneer of rock and roll who rarely gets the same recognition as Chuck Berry. Tharpe’s erasure in history is a concept that parallels appropriation in fashion—something Jean-Raymond is passionate about, as we saw on Netflix’s Next in Fashion.
Following the New York premiere of American, Also in September, the film will screen at drive-ins across the country.