Over the weekend, Kerby Jean-Raymond, the founder and creator of Pyer Moss, hosted a couture fashion show that showcased and celebrated the creations of Black inventors. According to the Associated Press, the show opened with a speech by activist and Black Panthers leader Elaine Brown, who shed light on the struggle of Black people to obtain justice in America.
“The concept is layered, there’s no central theme,” Jean-Raymond told Vanity Fair of the presentation, which featured 25 looks that were all inspired by the inventions of our kindred. “The general concept is that these are inventions by Black people and I wanted to re-introduce them to Black people and reverse any erasure that may exist.”
The collection, titled WAT U IZ, showcased sculpted designs featuring inventions such as the fire hydrant, peanut butter, the super soaker, the bottle cap, hair rollers, and the traffic light, just to name a few.
“I want people to experience Black wealth is not a dirty thing,” Jean-Raymond went on to say. “It is one of several means to an end—this house, inventions, creativity, ingenuity, all of those things are pathways to that sort of economic independence. I’ve said a lot of things at my shows. I’ve talked about mental health, multiple prong approaches to liberation, and this is just one of them.”
As an ultimate nod to Black wealth and entrepreneurship, the couture presentation took place at the Westchester mansion of Madame C.J. Walker.
“The stories the world tells us about us are about pain. The stories we tell about each other about our own lives are about how grandma loved us with bible verses and lemonade, how bloodlines never defined who our aunts and uncles were, how the house was always big enough to take in everybody we loved,” the show notes explained. “We hold stories of glory in our bodies. Black imagination is this world’s greatest technology.”
Eventually, the designs will be housed in Walker’s mansion as part of an exhibit.
Check out the couture collection below: