Pyer Moss SS17 and how fashion and politics can coexist

Do fashion and politics mix? One fashion publication posed the question over the weekend after Vogue’s review of the Yeezy Season 4 show called Donald Trump a racist. Fashion has remained an outlet and vessel for many designers and thousands of people to express their views on politics and society. Brands and retailers partner with companies and nonprofit organizations to help those in need or call attention to greater issues or causes - this is fashion working beyond commerce.
 

Pyer Moss SS17

To ask if fashion and politics mix could imply that they should remain separate, but how can they be separate when so much of our daily lives are influenced and impacted by politics and the socioeconomic structure? While designers draw inspiration from all forms of life and media, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Creative Director of Pyer Moss, hasn’t shied away from topics that can be deemed too political or racy.
 
The Brooklyn-born designer touched on police brutality for spring 2016 and mental health and drug use for fall 2016, and for spring 2017 drew inspiration from Bernie Madoff and Bernie Sanders, particularly their polarizing images.
 
The collection took many cues from business suiting, bankers, and the film “Wall Street” and met those cues with the current downtown New York City energy. The opening look set the tone with a double-breasted, pinstripe blazer and turtleneck combo that was a very common style for the 1980s Wall Street man, and followed with banker stripe shirts, a pinstripe biker jacket and overcoat, and a full striped moto jacket and trouser combo.
 
Most of the pieces had a loose interpretation like the black reflective overcoat, cropped double-breasted jacket, and high-waist khaki trousers. The highlights of the collection were the graphic pieces such as the turtleneck featuring a United States District Court summons, the cut-and-sew shirts with black and white images and the t-shirts with the phrases, “Please Speak Only to My Attorney” and “Come Shake the Money Tree”.
 
The Pyer Moss spring 2017 show opened with original music from producer Austin Millz, who performed live, and a poem introduction from playwright and creative director Cyrus Aaron. The poem touched on Madoff’s investment scandal, capitalism, and financial inequality among other things and was summed up best by the collection’s lace sweater and varsity jacket embroidered with the word ‘Greed’ in gold.
 
Through Madoff’s actions, investors lost $18 billion in a Ponzi Scheme, which led to Madoff’s incarceration. He pled guilty to his charges in 2009 and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
 
Bernie Madoff is 78-years old and was born in Queens, NY, while Jean-Raymond’s other inspiration for the SS17 collection, Bernie Sanders, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1941, just three years after Madoff. Sanders, who describes himself as a socialist, quickly gained supporters during his run for Presidency. His campaign was centered on income inequality, wealth disparity, tuition-free college and university, and increasing taxes on the 1%, a far cry and possible result of Madoff’s actions.
 
Madoff and Sanders were born in the same city three years apart and are united by more than just their name and birth city, but also their polarizing positions in US history as criminal and crusader, respectively. Now, they are united through the Pyer Moss spring 2017 collection, and that is one way to make fashion and politics mix.

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