by NICK REMSEN
Patrick Bateman, Gordon Gecko, Bernie Madoff—all American psychos in their own right, whether fictional or real. It was those men Kerby Jean-Raymond turned an eye to with Pyer Moss’s Spring outing (the show notes even dubbed it a “collaboration” with Donald Trump and Madoff). After a barnstorming Fall show and plenty of press, Raymond and his team had a fair bit to live up to, if not surpass, with today’s lineup; and they did.
A chorus of sopranos seated before cash registers burst into song before a goosebump-inducing performance by Cyrus Aaron and Austin Millz, as the former took to task institutionalized oppression in a piece which felt particularly resonant on the heels of a hot, bloody summer marked by the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and others. Aaron’s piece set the tenor for a show about privilege and power, about those, so often predatory, few who’ve got the upper-hand in the world (Jean-Raymond also name-checked Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Michael Douglas in Falling Down). The integration of performance and showing clothes was a remarkably seamless one; when asked about marrying the two, the designer responded: “I do what’s honest for me. Sometimes it comes out good, sometimes it comes out bad, but who gives a shit?”
Here it was undeniably good. Clothes were characterized by familiar motifs of wealth, the kind of things used in a movie to telegraph to us that someone is a banker before we’ve ever heard him speak: pinstripes, cufflinks, double-breasted suit jackets. Those codes were reworked and restyled to an offhanded, sporty effect. Twill trousers came shown with Perfecto-style toppers tucked into them, and the handful of graphics felt nicely purposeful; one satin coach’s jacket which read Please Speak Only to My Attorney was a particular highlight.
Elsewhere, big, bootleg gold watches were worn over shirt sleeves, and models sported terrific footwear by Yeezy shoe guru Salehe Bembury. Nikes and Doc Marten oxfords came dipped in a shroud of thick, sky blue silicone, trimmed roughly around the outer edges of the sole. Those served as a potent metaphor for anchors “that we all face in life,” Bembury offered, “whether financial or otherwise, that bog us down.” While as of now there are no plans to produce the pieces, it was no less easy to imagine them having a life in retail; Bembury himself pointed to the footwear market’s recent predilections for larger outsoles.
More than just a condemnation of men like Madoff and co., Jean-Raymond’s visceral show today served as a very wearable way to thumb a nose at their kind; he even went so far as to print an image of Madoff in the midst of his arrest atop a pin-striped shirt. How many of us are willing to wear a button-down bearing the likeness of Bernie, even ironically? That’s up for debate, but Jean-Raymond’s case, and his latest collection, were both compelling.