Many de­sign­ers are in­spired by Mom

This one took his fash­ion cues from Dad

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO -

NEW YORK — DE­SIGN­ERS SPEND A LOT OF TIME ex­plain­ing the in­flu­ence their moth­ers had on their lives — both pro­fes­sional and per­sonal. Proenza Schouler is named af­ter the two de­sign­ers’ moth­ers; Joseph Al­tuzarra and Zac Posen both in­volved their moms in the op­er­a­tion of their la­bels, and Tracy Reese’s was her first pub­li­cist. And Michael Kors will be happy to tell you how much his mother’s style steered his own es­thetic sen­si­bil­ity.

But it’s rare for a de­signer to talk about the im­pact of their fa­ther. Not even menswear de­sign­ers spend much time rem­i­nisc­ing about the clothes Dad might have worn.

Per­haps fa­thers have less of a visual im­pact on their chil­dren. Could it be that they are less likely to en­gage the cre­ative half of their off­spring’s brain — or too pre­oc­cu­pied to get in­volved in Ju­nior’s busi­ness? It seems hard to be­lieve. Truth be told, our cul­ture just puts moth­ers un­der a brighter spot­light. Moth­er­hood is painted with a mys­ti­cal qual­ity.

Look no fur­ther than the ec­stasy that greeted Bey­oncé’s be­daz­zled madonna at the Gram­mys. Mean­while, fa­thers are per­ceived as hu­man, flawed, sec­ondary — which is wholly unfair, be­cause fa­thers have their own spe­cial em­pow­er­ing, charis­matic, lov­ing magic.

And so it was no­table that the de­signer Kerby JeanRay­mond, founder of the la­bel Pyer Moss, used the story of his fa­ther’s early years as a Haitian im­mi­grant in New York as in­spi­ra­tion for his fall 2017 col­lec­tion. The Tues­day night show, “My Fa­ther as I Re­mem­ber from 19801999,” was the first in a se­ries that Jean-Ray­mond plans to do about his par­ents.

In a brief, hand­writ­ten sketch of his fa­ther’s life dur­ing those two decades, the de­signer ex­plained to his au­di­ence how Jean-Claude Jean-Ray­mond, a taxi driver liv­ing in Brook­lyn’s East Flat­bush, won the lot­tery and used the money to at­tend school. He even­tu­ally opened a shop called “Top Tech Elec­tron­ics.”

And when his wife died, he was left to raise their son, Kerby, alone.

Be­fore the show be­gan, the de­signer ap­peared from back­stage and joked that he was “break­ing the fourth wall” to ex­plain a bit about the pre­sen­ta­tion to his packed, stand­ing-room au­di­ence. His re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther, who was in at­ten­dance, is com­pli­cated, he said.

But as the show un­folded, it was also ev­i­dent that there was love in that re­la­tion­ship, as well as re­spect.

The clothes — pre­sented as a live cho­rus sang an African-Amer­i­can spir­i­tual and a mul­ti­cul­tural ar­ray of other tunes — had the off-kil­ter look that so of­ten de­fines the style of true ec­centrics mov­ing to their own melody, who have not yet been over­whelmed by the rules and ex­pec­ta­tions of their com­mu­nity, who are not wholly as­sim­i­lated.

The suits had too-wide shoul­ders, the over­coat lapels were ex­treme. The fit isn’t tai­lored; it gives the body greater pres­ence. The trousers, with their loose cut, had the look of a che­nille bed­spread. A sil­ver shirt that looked like it was stitched from a cud­dly bathrobe. The sweat­pants — well, they just looked like sweat­pants, dressed up with an over­coat.

And there were T-shirts and sweat­shirts printed with a pic­ture of his fa­ther in his younger years, along with his nick­name — hon­our­ing him as a kind of rock star.

Th­ese were not ex­per­i­men­tal clothes but clothes with a story and a his­tory. They were a re­minder that style helps ex­plain to the world who we are — or who we would like to be. And in this case, style is help­ing a son re­con­sider his re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther.


Kerby Jean-Ray­mond, founder of menswear la­bel Pyer Moss, heads to his Man­hat­tan stu­dio. His de­signs this sea­son were in­spired by his dad, who raised him alone af­ter his mom died.

Jean-Claude Jean-Ray­mond, left, ar­rived in New York from Haiti in 1980. He chats with his son, fash­ion de­signer Kerby Jean-Ray­mond, dur­ing their visit in Brook­lyn in Jan­uary.

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