Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond created Spring/Summer line inspired by known fashion icon Bernie Sanders
Art can sure get political, especially for fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, who has a history of using the runway to raise awareness about critical issues ranging from Black Lives Matter and police brutality to mental illness. This year, at the Pyer Moss fashion show on Sunday, the designer let his politics take center-stage like never before when Jean-Raymond cited Bernie Sanders as his fashion line’s inspiration.
As we all know, the former Democratic presidential candidate is a bit of a fashion icon himself. Who could ever forget that March primary debate in which he daringly pulled off a suit of a shade so edgy, no one could tell whether it was blue or brown? Or how he made the trite hipster look cool again by regularly rocking wind-swept, uncombed white hair and bold-framed glasses?
Sanders is a fashion legend, which is why, naturally, I was disappointed to learn that Jean-Raymond’s Spring/Summer 2017 line was based not on Sanders’ style, but on the former presidential candidate’s politics. “As an idealist and somebody who is creative, I am constantly fighting,” Jean-Raymond told Fashionista. “I’m like a Bernie Sanders, constantly at war with the Bernie Madoffs of the world, who constantly see me as meal ticket.”
Sanders’ iconic, generalized label as an outsider in Washington, leader of the rebellion against the corporate and political establishment, in itself could inspire all kinds of rugged looks, but Jean-Raymond didn’t stop there. The Daily Beast reports that Cyrus Aaron, a playwright and spoken word artist, took the runway early on and sounded off on all kinds of issues of economic inequality, including “predatory loans, old and new money, and the problems of disenfranchisement in the black community.” Police brutality was another major issue highlighted by Jean-Raymond at the event, and it’s worth noting Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson was in attendance, according to the news outlet.
Jean-Raymond’s line was apparently as edgy as Sanders’ politics, pairing daring colors, and street style with business style. Some pieces also bore bold text, like a graphic tee reading “Come Shake the Money Tree” on the front and a graphic of a legal document proclaiming “Final Notice” on the back and a men’s sweater in black lace with the word “GREED” printed on the front in all caps.
“I’m really deconstructing what is stereotypical Financial District douchebag clothing,” Jean-Raymond told Fashionista, of his line.
Sanders, alive and well, resumed campaigning for his former rival Clinton last week. While many of his supporters claim he changed American politics forever, it looks like his legacy might even have touched the fashion industry a bit, too.