On Tuesday evening as the world was preparing for former President Trump’s last day in office, the United States death toll from the COVID-19 virus reached 400,000. To show respect for the lives lost, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a memorial service in Washington, D.C.
In the act of Harris entering her new role, these next four years of the Vice President’s style will be documented and scrutinized as she makes history as the first Black and South Asian woman to be elected into the VP position. Yesterday, Harris chose to sport a Pyer Moss nude overcoat at one of her first appearances during the transition. “Vice President Kamala Harris’s stylist reached out the day after she was announced as President Joe Biden’s running mate,” Kerby Jean-Raymond tells us. “We talked about several projects but always intended to be part of the inauguration. We made several options including dresses and accessories… ultimately she chose this jacket which the stylist said is, ‘the cats meow.'”
The coat is a staple in American fashion, and when worn by the woman elected into one of the highest positions of power in our nation, it symbolized a strong message to viewers. Harris’s choice to don a coat by Pyer Moss is history defining. The buff colored cashmere coat with contrast stitching, is powerful. As she stands firmly in her moment, you take notice of the structured wave across her back that grips her shoulders. And the pleats, like columns, give it strength. “We began working on a fairly ordinary jacket, but we got approval to make some changes this week to incorporate some our brand identity on the piece. The knife pleat is one of our favorite mainstays in our collections,” Jean-Raymond exclaimed. Wearing a Black designer on the eve of her inauguration is a hopeful display of progress, a precursor to what is to come. “I’ve been working with the costume designer and couturier Camilla Huey for a few years now. She’s been a constant in my life and part of my growth as a designer. She’s taught me how to achieve more difficult executions that I didn’t know how to do before,” the designer continued. “She was a part of creating my Sculpture for the MoMA and several of the Met Gala looks I created in 2019, some of which remain unseen publicly.”
Pyer Moss, founded in 2013 by designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, is known for its activism as well as its outerwear, notably dressing Rihanna in a camouflage leather biker jacket. The company is also recognized for its modern take on classic silhouettes such as the bomber. Jean-Raymond’s collections often highlight the forgotten stories of Black activists in popular culture like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a queer Black woman who debatably founded rock ’n roll or collaborating with Richard Philips, a painter who spent 45 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
Black designers have long contributed to the landscape of fashion in our country and globally, without much recognition. The future of designers in our community relies on their ability, much like Vice President Kamala Harris, to take up space and have agency over their own stories and image. “Accountability to Black peoples’ issues in this country. Good will from brands is non-transferable to the wearers,” Raymond concluded. “Wearing Pyer Moss doesn’t absolve anyone from doing the work, instead it’s a commitment to go above and beyond.”
That is what is revolutionary.