New York Fashion Week comes but twice a year, as hundreds of presentations and runway shows are littered throughout the city. There's no true rhyme or reason to doing a presentation versus a runway show, but the protocol for younger brands and designers tends to favor lower impact presentations before going all out with a spectacular runway show. With that in mind, we spoke to two designers and Four Pins favorites, John Elliott and Pyer Moss' Kerby Jean-Raymond, who both put on the first runway show of their young careers for Fall/Winter 2015 and took different paths to get there.
Part I: Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss
You've done presentations during Fashion Week before, where did the idea of a runway show come from?
I never really wanted to do a runway show. Last season, I had this idea to incorporate Nerf guns into the next show. The idea was to do a Nerf gun war between the audience and the models. We got all the Nerf guns and it only made sense to do it as a runway show. However, over time, thinking about the climate we were in with all the gun violence happening and all the things I stand against, I didn't put two and two together and see that it could be read as the wrong message. I just thought of it as a way to have fun with the models and make a party out of it. The more I thought about how people would receive it, I scrapped the Nerf gun idea. But we were stuck with the space and to do a presentation would actually be more expensive.
You have said that you actually prefer a presentation, right?
I’m still in love with the idea of a presentation. Most people are late because shows run late and the schedule gets messed up anyway. I like the interaction of a presentation. I’m there shooting the shit and hanging out. With the runway, it’s so informal. You see the guys walking down and they just disappear. What we did was a hybrid. At the end of the runway show, all the guys lined up out front so you could stop and see the clothes on your way out. That a concept I’ll probably run with for a while.
Your clothing definitely feels like it should be seen in motion. How does the styling affect that for a runway show versus a presentation?
We’ve wanted to define a silhouette since the first season. At a standing presentation, you get shakes, but you don’t get a moving silhouette. I was always against so much layering. I felt it was so common among American designers to just pile on and pile on until you look like a sausage inside of a thermal. But when we started doing walk-throughs, we added some bits here and there with tails and longer shirts with flaps that you could actually see more movement when the model is coming down the runway. The key is to tell the story so everything transitions smoothly in eight minutes or so. When you’re styling, you want certain fabrics to go together. Four looks with the same type of idea, then the next four, and they have to segway so they all come down in a sequence.
What was the larger inspiration for this collection?
There wasn’t just one idea. It was really to try to take the DNA and incorporate this '90s hip hop vibe with more colors than we’ve used before. I’ve also been watching a lot of Martin lately. It’s on all the time. I’m always looking at his outfits. I think the aesthetic was to keep the futuristic vibe with the nylon jumpsuits and sporty and the logo of the opening credits for Martin and In Living Color really inspired the color palette. That was on my mood board. I think it came together pretty well.
I noticed the custom sneakers as well. Where did those come from?
Those were just for the show. One of my good friends is the footwear director at Greats. They gave me complete creative control and a silhouette they didn’t even have before. I tweaked the silhouette a little bit and it looks really good. It's all made in Italy and we actually used all the materials I used in the collection. So we put our materials, like the leather from the jackets, on the sneaker. We don’t have any intents of selling them right now. But I’m talking to a shop right now that may want to release them. So we’ll see how that works out. I just wanted to do a really cool shoe to go with the show.
So what's the plan going forward? Do you want to stick with runways? Go back to presentations? It feels like protocol is that once you do a runway, you stick with a runway show.
I don’t subscribe to that bullshit. I’m more about how I feel at the time. If I do a presentation again, it will be a cool presentation. You have to keep in mind they’re usually more expensive than runways. We haven’t seen designers do crazy buildouts recently, but the simplest buildout is still like $20-30,000. But if I go back to a presentation, it’s going to be because I want to do a good one that coincides with the collection. I feel like the runway is a little impersonal. One of the things about runways that I hate is that you can’t accommodate so many people because you don’t have those in-and-out privileges where people can come and go. It feels like a get-together, you can stand around and talk to people. So probably for as long as I’m creative director I’ll probably be doing runways/presentation hybrids or just presentations. I don’t like those delusion of grandeur moments [like the bow at the end of the show]. I’d rather come out while people are leaving and thank them for coming. I didn’t even want to walk out. I got pushed out. Literally, physically pushed.
Photo courtesy of Corey Stokes.