A blank stage was filled with an entirely black gospel choir, dressed in a hopeful white, ahead of Pyer Moss' New York fashion week show on Saturday night.
Complete with a cellist and percussionists, the singers begun with a soulful and frequently sombre medley of songs, including Kendrick Lamar's 'Alright' and Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The USA.'
The politically-charged, 20-minute live show soundtracked Kerby Jean-Raymond's first foray into womenswear with his A/W 18 collection titled, 'American, Also.' The bare background was a nice contrast to a vibrant runway, populated with models of colour in ketchup reds and mustard yellows.
Models walked alongside musicians like Chicago rapper Vic Mensa in wide-brimmed hats and cuban-heeled shoes, defiant star spangled-scarves swept over their shoulders.
The explicit Americana theme seemingly references the somewhat of the 19th Century American West. Like many historical narratives, the retelling has been white-washed. Now, with Haitian-American Jean-Raymond calling the shots, this small piece of black history has been recognised in the exclusive fashion week schedule.
The designer and founder of Pyer Moss utilised the hyper-masculine, white American, Hollywood ideal of the cowboy and reframed it on black bodies. The implicit message of this radical retelling was, helpfully, emblazoned on the back of some of the headwear and joggers, which read, 'AS USA AS U.'
Interestingly, this show was also used to introduce the brand's collaboration (which was announced in November) with Reebok - a streetwear brand from Bolton, England. Bold, logo-printed joggers followed structured leatherwear in a visual symbiosis that reiterated the concept of streetwear and, by extension, hip-hop, as a vital part of American history.
The British brand's inclusion may also be a reference to lower-class style being adopted and co-opted by a privileged few, and this collection perhaps hopes to further cement streetwear into the high-fashion canon.
'The collection is the beginning of our journey in telling the story of underrepresented groups of Americans. We're starting the conversation and this new direction for the brand by first speaking about the original American cowboy,' said Jean-Raymond in an official provided by Reebok. 'The phrase cowboy, which was meant to be demeaning and derogatory is being re-seen as regal and spiritual. Our hope is to continue to challenge traditional narratives of minority groups in this country and tell uplifting stories within our work, which encourage inclusion.'
Closing with Kendrick's words, 'we gon' be alright' the choir struck an optimistic note, and the guests burst into appreciative applause.