Making political statements at fashion shows isn't unheard of. Just this past summer, designer Rick Owens punched a model who decided to go rogue and make a statement that no one understood about German chancellor Angela Merkel. Demonstrations about animal cruelty are fairly commonplace.
But on Thursday night, designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, the man behind the brand Pyer Moss, took on another type of cruelty. "This is an intervention" flashed on the screen prior to the start of the show. For the next 10 minutes, a series of video clips showing people of color being brutalized by police appeared one after the other. The faces of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, a teenage girl in Texas and more were all projected on screen.
"I was gonna kind of like hold up a mirror to the room with a video," the designer told The Guardian. "I'm black, I'm a designer, I'm living in a time when this is happening. You're 28 years old, you're watching kids younger than you who are being killed by grown men who claim fear as an excuse."
In the video, Raymond also included the voices of the living. Usher, Kendrick Lamar, Marc Ecko and even grieving family members of the deceased all made appearances. Muttered conversations and gasps cropped up throughout the crowd.
The clothes themselves echoed that message. The designer collaborated with Dr. Martens and artist Gregory Siff to produce a pair of white boots, etched sometimes with phrases like "I can't breathe" and other times with the names of those killed by police. Red paint splattered on the boots distinctly resembled blood. The rest of the collection included colorblocked sportswear given an artistic treatment ."I was so blown away by it, it was unreal," said British model Abby Clee. "I knew I was definitely moved. I was a bit teary but thought, 'No, I shouldn't cry when I'm about to go out.' I think a lot of people were quite moved, by their faces. Obviously, it means quite a lot to them."
The controversial nature of the show wasn't accepted by all though. The Brooklyn-based designer said that some opted not to attend because of the show's message. In fact, according to reports, the original venue for the designer's show and a longtime buyer pulled out after news of the video broke.
Sep 10, 2015 at 8:52pm PDT
While Raymond is fearing a backlash for taking a stance, at least his father is proud that he did it. At the end of the show, the two hugged. "It was really, really nice," he said.