Because what Mr. Jean-Raymond, who has become a star of New York fashion, thanks to highly considered shows that take as their guiding principle the reclamation of the Black role in shaping American history, offered up was not just an argument for his own big ambitions as a designer of high fashion — for his desire to be “the next Prada, Bottega Veneta, Maison Margiela,” as he said in a call before the show. It was a new definition for what could constitute “couture.”
Similar to Demna Gvasalia, who put denim and parkas on his Balenciaga couture runway, and Iris van Herpen, who treats laser cutting and 3-D printing as if it were a needle and thread, Mr. Jean-Raymond is part of a new generation of designers that plays by the rules of the most traditional, elitist form of fashion while at the same time reinventing them in their own image.
Though Mr. Jean-Raymond applied for official designation from the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode through the usual formal channels, his couture is not, and was never meant to be, ye olde French couture. It’s more like couture-ish.
(Through Your Friends in New York, a group Mr. Jean-Raymond created to support designers who may have been marginalized or exploited in the past because of the color of their skin, their sexuality or their gender, he had become close to the Kering group, the luxury conglomerate, and Francesca Bellettini, the chief executive of Saint Laurent, became his couture sponsor.)
He doesn’t have, for example, a classic atelier: He put together teams he met in Los Angeles after a stint on “Insecure,” which included costume designers and the petites mains of Pixar and Imagination studios. (The runway pieces had to be shipped across the country on the kind of trucks that normally transport racecars.)