Last night, Kerby Jean-Raymond packed out Brooklyn’s King Theatre for a historical night showcasing Pyer Moss’s Collection 3, Sister. I can guarantee you that no attendee will ever forget what went down. The collection was the final one of a three-part story, “American, Also,” “created to uncover the stories of black peoples’ contribution to popular American culture.” The show was an experience that told a story through the clothes, music, beauty, and art. The show notes mentions Sister is focused on “the contributions of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the black woman who invented rock and roll.” To honor Tharpe’s life, the collection used artwork by the recently exonerated artist Richard Phillips.
The show opened with an angelic entrance of band members dressed in all white, accompanied by singer Brent Faiyaz, who opened with a soulful musical number. Before the clothes made their debut, I knew the entire night was going to be a celebration of black history and an iconic fashion moment.
Next, author and speaker Casey Gerald recited a speech on slavery, what our ancestors encountered 400 years ago, and the revival of freedom we didn’t have as black people. “You can’t hurt us no more,” Casey repeated powerfully. He paid homage to legends Jimmy Hendricks and Rosetta Tharpe, hinting at the magical tribute that was about to be paid to them throughout the show.
After the emotional speech, the curtains opened and a full black choir made their way onstage to sing hymns as the models descended down the runway. According to the program the choir was named the Pyer Moss Tabernacle Drip Choir Drenched in the Blood, and after listening to them perform for almost an hour it made perfect sense. From their high notes to their effortless transitions, I had goosebumps up and down my arms.
It’s now become a tradition for Kerby to incorporate a choir in his show, as it has been the highlight of previous ones. This time, the choir sang hymns from Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” with the crowd cheering and singing along the entire time. The singers even added a little present-day rap in their lineup, transitioning to songs by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B.
Black models graced the runway in whimsical dresses, tailored suits, and garments enriched with piano references paying homage to the rock and roll era mentioned at the start of the show. The clothing was accessorized with the most statement eye beauty and lots of Afros, cornrows, and braid jewelry. In addition to references to the originators of rock and roll, Kerby was certain to drop political statements on his runway, something he has always been known for. For example, graphic shirts reading, “Vote or Die, for Real This Time.”
Multiple design collaborations hit the runway, including Sean John crop tops and colorblock ensembles. It was a nostalgic moment, as Sean John was a pioneer for black fashion in the ’90s. Pyer Moss x Reebok was another collaboration that debuted, with Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin making his runway debut wearing an orange puffer coat from the collaboration that I need in my closet ASAP. The Reebok clothing was a colorful display of streetwear meets art.
When it was all said and done, the choir sang the gospel hymn “Lord, Make Me Over” for the final walk, and the crowd gave a standing ovation. There was a feeling of joy and freedom from the opening of the show to the very last second, and I left Kings Theatre feeling more unapologetically back than I came.
Kerby consistently accomplishes not only celebrating the culture through his designs, but making an impact at his shows, and this one was no different.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue