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Over the weekend in Irvington, New York, guests arrived at Villa Lewaro, the estate of Madame C.J. Walker, for the couture debut from Kerby Jean-Raymond’s label Pyer Moss. An open-air runway set in front of the mansion offered a grand backdrop for the collection, titled “WAT U IZ.” Beginning with words from the activist Elaine Brown, who spoke on freedom and the Civil Rights movement, performers took to the tiered stage at the center of the runway, creating a driving soundtrack to mark the start of the show.
The inspiration behind the collection came from considering the prosperity of the Black female millionaire, Madame Walker, whose success, the house muses, was the result of Black kinship in addition to her own hard work. Asking the sequence of questions, “What will you leave behind? What will they build from what you’ve done? Or have you not yet learned and are only building for yourself in this world?” the collection posed a statement honoring Blackness and the collective stories and imagination that have come from its resilience, through a collection of looks that won’t soon be forgotten.
Walking the runway, we saw references to items invented by Black visionaries, imagined in wearable forms. The very first look was a bottle cap-turned-skirt reading “Pyer Moss, Delicious and Refreshing,” worn atop a red mesh bodysuit, followed by a suite of objects that continued ideas of the power of Black imagination—like a traffic light dress, which saw the wearer’s head covered entirely; a tent-like version of David Hammons’s African-American Flag, which left no inch of the wearer’s body visible; and a giant, wearable jar of Pyer Moss-branded peanut butter.
Other looks we’re still thinking about included a pair of waffle cone pants and a structured, swirling ice cream top, covered in sprinkles; a bicycle embodied through a leather-detailed bodysuit and a metal frame with handlebars worn around the torso; a golden-hued ballgown with a window unit air conditioner carried as a frame; and a silky pink lamp dress with a shade worn as a hat, which saw beaded tassels falling to the ground. The show came to a close with a ruffled refrigerator dress with lime green heels that mimicked furniture legs, covered with plastic magnets spelling out “But who invented Black trauma?”