In 2015, we named singer Erykah Badu Queen of Everything, and in 2016 she continues to live up to this title with the announcement of her latest contribution to the fashion industry. Badu has teamed up with Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of athletic menswear-cum-womenswear label Pyer Moss, and will be styling his upcoming AW16 show for New York Fashion Week.
Fashion, as with all forms of artistic expression, has the most powerful impact when it goes beyond the aesthetic to challenge social issues within its beauty. Jean-Raymond does just this in his work, most notably in his last collection entitled Ota, meet Saartjie – a reference to Congolese man Ota Benga and South African woman Saartjie Baartman, both of whom were horrifically exhibited in human zoos in the 1800s and 1900s respectively. Jean-Raymond used his presentation as an opportunity to debut his short film about police killings in America. The opening song was Sound of da Police by KRS-One. His models were clad in blood-splattered white shoes and pieces emblazoned with Eric Garner’s final words: “I can’t breathe”. His entire collection was a dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement, a decision that was not met without controversy and negative backlash.
Images: Pyer Moss SS16. Courtesy of Pyer Moss.
So who better to pair up with than Badu, who herself is not afraid to use her platform to speak out against the fatal racism that black people face today. Badu told Dazed “(Kerby and I) were a match made in fashion heaven…We share an eye for truth through art. Though risky at times, he stands in his truth. And the strength of that truth lies in the belief of his vision. I’m inspired by the bold statements he makes in this, sometimes, fickle industry.”
Not to mention that Badu also has impeccable taste and an unrivalled sense of uniqueness in her style! We simply cannot wait to see the result of this collaboration, which is said to be focused on the ‘double bind’ of the black experience in modern America, described by the brand as “a place where black culture is praised, commodified, and appropriated, while black people are criticised, vilified, and hunted for sport.”