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Kerby Jean-Raymond Leaves 'BoF' 500 Following Problematic Gala

Pyer Moss Creator Calls Out 'BoF' For Mistreatment & "Insulting" Gala

Tyler Mitchell, Kerby Jean-Raymond and Kimberly Drew by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Business of Fashion‘s CEO Imran Amed also publicly apologized.

“BOF 499, I’m off the list,” was perhaps the most profound set of words Kerby Jean-Raymond has shared publicly following Pyer Moss’ Collection 3 runway show in New York. The designer originally shared these thoughts on social media while at Paris Fashion Week.

Last month, Jean-Raymond’s show was an immersive experience paying homage to the queer artist Rosetta Tharpe and featured artwork by Richard Phillip. Later in September, he was also noted as one of the 100 most talented fashion insiders on behalf of Business of Fashion. In case you’re unfamiliar the BoF 500 also highlighted industry titans including Dapper Dan, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Jerry Lorenzo and more. The purpose of the index is to showcase who exactly is shaping the $2.4 million fashion industry, the list is ongoing and updated yearly.

While in Paris, Kerby attended the BoF 500 Gala on Monday night. At the prestigious event which was coined as a night celebrating diversity, he took to his Instagram Stories to point out that he wasn’t happy about the performance that featured a choir.

In detail, he pointed out the fact that the choir being at the event was “insulting.” At his recent shows, Jean-Raymond’s choir played a large role in making it clear each presentation was ultimately created to center blackness. Kerby’s concerns of appropriation were also shared by designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies via social media.

While at the BoF event, she shared:

“Not everyone gets to have a black gospel choir. I’m so confused. Aren’t we supposed to be celebrating diversity [sic]? And inclusion? Not appropriation? We are at a fashion awards show. Fashion exploits more women of color than any other industry. Why is there a black gospel choir?”

After sharing the aforementioned commentary, Kerby wrote a robust piece on Medium and explicitly laid out why he was offended by Business of Fashion. One poignant section highlighted the fact that he was offered a BoF 500 cover, then denied the cover after sharing countless ideas with the company’s founder and CEO Imran Ahmed.

On his experience at the BoF Gala:

“I was at 60% “had it” with this whole sh*t at that point then Imran gets on the mic and says something along the lines of ‘I want to just shout out a few people who inspired us to focus our issue on Diversity and inclusion’ and calls out a list of names, maybe 20 names, including Olivier Rousteing and Pierpaolo Picolli as leaders in ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’ I was excluded. To have your brain picked for months, be told that your talk at the “Salon” and work. inspired this whole thing, and then be excluded in favor of big brands who cut the check is insulting. Pay attention to the brands on the covers.”

On the choir and appropriation:

“Homage without empathy and representation is appropriation. Instead, explore your own culture, religion and origins. By replicating ours and excluding us — you prove to us that you see us as a trend. Like, we gonna die black, are you?”

Following Kerby’s Medium post, Ahmed responded with a detailed account on Business of Fashion sharing his perspective on appropriation and diversity. He noted that Jean-Raymond had “the right to voice his concerns and we respect his perspective.” Additionally, he shared that inclusivity is “not a trend for BoF.”

On the BoF print issue:

“When we decided to focus our latest print issue and accompanying BoF 500 gala on inclusivity, we did so precisely because a superficial approach to inclusivity is indeed insulting — and wholly insufficient. The industry needs to go further and invest in the difficult work of genuine cultural change, and our issue is focused on going into this topic in-depth, from a variety of vantage points addressing the topics of race, ability and LGBTQIA+.”

On challenging topics such as diversity:

“I am deeply sorry that I upset Kerby and have made him feel disrespected. While we may disagree in our opinions on the gala and the details of our exchanges over the past year, Kerby has my complete respect and I would appreciate the opportunity to sit down with him and learn more about his concerns and how we at BoF can do better, especially as we try to address important topics like inclusivity. While we will not shy away from addressing challenging topics, I am committed to making this a listening and learning opportunity for myself and BoF.”

Head to Medium to read the full response from Jean-Raymond.

Source: Business of Fashion



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