Behind the Gospel Choir That Made Pyer Moss’s Designs Really Sing


Musicians have always orbited the world that Kerby Jean-Raymond constructs around his brand, Pyer Moss. Erykah Badu styled his Fall 2016 collection, wherein models strutted down the runway in hats fit for the queen of neo-soul herself, and Jean-Raymond and Chicago-based rapper Vic Mensa even went to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation at the end of 2016, bringing a bus full of activists and as many supplies as they could carry to the tribe and its supporters.

Considering Jean-Raymond’s ties to the music world and the themes that inspire his explicitly political designs, it perhaps comes as no surprise that he tapped legendary R&B artist and producer Raphael Saadiq to produce the music for his Fall 2018 collection. The Americana-inspired collection, which he titled “American, Also,” shines light on the 19th-century origins of the cowboy, and brings the once-derogatory term into new light. “We are researching topics that make us feel included in the fabric of American society, so this is specifically focused on the American cowboy and how that started by being a black thing,” says Jean-Raymond of his team’s new focus (he says that they’re treating Pyer Moss as a totally new project). Reframing the concept of the cowboy is the first way in which they’re challenging enduring racist cultural narratives. “Cowboy was a derogatory term used to describe men who weren’t allowed to be called men, so they’re called boys—house boys, field boys, etc. We essentially took that and flipped it on its head, and made it into something regal and something that we can be proud of,” says Jean-Raymond.

And there’s perhaps no better way to uplift and imbue this deep sense of pride to the collection than with a gospel choir. Saadiq produced the all-black group of singers, each of whom wore crisp all-white ensembles, as they sang a medley that spanned from 1970s classics to more recent releases, including a darker version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” and even a few moments of the moving “Rikers Island,” a song from Saadiq’s upcoming album. “Usually the choir is the answer to someone preaching and trying to make somebody understand something,” Saadiq says. “I picked the choir because it had to be a very rich, deep-rooted sound, and I wanted to hear people singing against Kerby’s fashion. I’ve always wanted to see it at a fashion show, so I felt like it would go great together.” Watch an exclusive video of the choir’s performance below.

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