Monday night, media outlet Business of Fashion closed out Paris Fashion Week with their annual BoF 500 Gala. The glitzy event celebrates the brand’s sought-after list of professionals shaping the global fashion industry. This year’s theme paid homage to champions of diversity, with insiders like Dapper Dan, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Jerry Lorenzo and other trailblazers of color making the cut.
To be excluded in the call out of who they deem as making changes as it pertains to inclusion is wild.”
And after a monumental year, which included winning the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, launching Reebok Studies__, a new division focused on fostering emerging talent, and throwing the most socially relevant show of not only NYFW but all of fashion month, Pyer Moss founder Kerby Jean-Raymond landed his rightful place on the esteemed lineup.
But while attending the event meant to toast his nod, he took to social media to share his disappointment with the night’s happenings. In a series of Instagram stories, Jean-Raymond expressed his shock with the BoF’s choice to use a Black gospel choir—a trademark of the designer’s runway shows—to greet arriving guests. “Diversity and inclusion is a trend for these folks,” he wrote. “BoF 499, I’m off the list.” At his September show, the Pyer Moss Tabernacle Drip Choir Drenched in the Blood belted out an empowering medley of jazz, gospel and blues in homage to Black women in music. He added, “to be excluded in the call out of who they deem as making changes as it pertains to inclusion is wild. I was intentionally lied to.”
Yesterday, the designer provided more context in a lengthy statement claiming broken promises, event mix-ups and even being poached for suggestions on Black talent for the BoF 500 list and then not being recognized as a leader in the fight for change. “Last night, against my better judgment I went to the BoF 500 gala,” he wrote. “I’m offended that you gaslighted me, used us, then monetized it,” Jean-Raymond said.
What both Kerby and BoF are aiming to achieve is to bring people together.”
Last night, Business of Fashion founder, Imran Amed issued a statement in response to Jean-Raymond’s claims of cultural appropriation. “Why I’m Listening to Kerby Jean-Raymond” the title reads as Amed outlines his own struggles as a queer Muslim man. “I can also assure you that this topic is not a trend for me either. I feel strongly about this because, for most of my life, I’ve felt like an outsider myself,” he wrote. Amed outlines his own efforts to effect change, from hiring a diverse team at BoF to ensuring the annual list is reflective of the global fashion community. “I am deeply sorry that I upset Kerby and have made him feel disrespected.” Amed concluded by offering to sit down with the designer to sort things out. “Ultimately, I believe that what both Kerby and BoF are aiming to achieve is to bring people together.”
Amed’s apology and the outpouring of support in response to Jean-Raymond’s remarks illustrates his power as a voice for change. But sadly, this is another addition to the long list of fashion brands that have been dragged for similar claims. The larger question is how the global community of Black creatives in can galvanize to prevent this type of thing from ever happening again. Read the full statement from BoF here.