But Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer of the Pyer Moss brand, gave his audience a dose of humor, a few things to think about, an empathetic ear and some fine-looking clothes.
He has delivered powerful messages before. For spring, it was about police brutality and Black Lives Matter. This time, his show called to mind a less specific ache.
With an operatic choir singing to the music of an classical quintet, his models strolled out in menswear: quilted trousers, teddy-bear fur coats, varsity-style bombers, long shorts over jogging pants. The clothes were in the zone of overlap between tailoring and gym clothes — and so, yes, you’d want to take a meeting in them, run for the subway in them and head to happy hour in them.
But in the music and in the styling, which was given an assist by singer Erykah Badu, who brought along her own collection of eyewear and hats, there was a sense of the exasperating, stressful, absurd culture of the moment. There are problems we cannot control, wishes that are threadbare, ambition turned ugly. Life is a little crazy right now. Grab a smiley face pin! Self-medicate!
One model held up a placard — a poster of surrender: “My demons won today. I’m sorry.” And can’t we all relate to that?
Jean-Raymond and Badu watched the show from the audience. Soaking it all in. When the show ended, they stood and accepted the applause and headed backstage. The choir was left to sing — soulfully and hopefully — strains of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The black American national anthem. Suggesting that we could all use a little uplift — but maybe, especially, people of color.