When it rains it pours yet the payoff of Pyer Moss’ first couture showing was a collection that was a testament to resilience, historic references, and subtle defiance of tradition. Held in front of the Villa Lewaro estate, home to Madam C.J. Walker, Kerby Jean-Raymond and the PM team intended to showcase elevated everyday objects found around black households and invented by black innovators as the exclamation point to the Chambre Syndicale’s couture week. Yet with an original 2 PM start time on Thursday, a torrential downpour delayed and then postponed the runway show until Saturday, causing the entire production team to scramble to pull off a full rebuild with less than 48 hours. For fashion stylist Sakinah Bashir having to pull off weeks of preparation in 12 hours pushed her team to the limit, explaining “we had to basically re-tailor each suit day of and style the show including all 34 performers and models, two whom we had to recast and refit.” We spoke to the rising creative about how she got her start in fashion, making the impossible possible for her “fashion family”, and going against the couture norm.
What are your first memories of fashion and what led you to become a stylist?
The first memories that led me to become a stylist were a combination of things. My father had a huge influence on my life in all aspects but especially fashion. He was the best-dressed man I knew — he worked in construction but cleaned up nice and understood the importance of tailoring, shoes, and always wearing a watch. These things I carry with me today and apply to my styling aesthetic. I also love music and music videos and growing up I was always curious about the outfits I saw in them. I would think to myself “where is this garment from? and how did they get it?” I grew up on the south side of Atlanta we have our own style, that on top of growing up Muslim and seeing the outfits people wore at the mosque on Friday (Jum’mah).
How did you first connect with Kerby Jean-Raymond and Pyer Moss?
I first connected with Kerby and Pyer Moss by assisting stylist Eric J McNeal in 2018 with their shows and side creative projects. Eventually, they became what I deem as my “fashion family.”
What would you say are the main highlights of styling this show?
I would say being rained out on Friday’s original date then having to pull off weeks of preparation in 12 hours. When the show got rained out all of the white suits the performers wore got insanely dirty with mud and grass. I had to find a dry cleaner that could clean 34 suits in a day—which was insane. I got turned away from about 2 places telling me I was nuts and that it couldn’t be done. Eventually, I found a guy that sent me to a place in the Bronx— a major shoutout to Kingsbridge Cleaners. After the cleaners were completed, we had to basically re-tailor each suit day of and style the show including all 34 performers and models, two of whom we had to recast and refit. The shoes the performers wore I purchased from New Era suiting, a mom-and-pop store in LES. I wanted shoes to be completely white including the sole— so I brought in a professional airbrusher to paint a full black dress shoe white, then purchased white shoelaces. We had to re-do each shoe before the show — finished around 3 AM day of show. Truly, a miracle!
What references came into play in the making of this collection?
Kerby wanted to highlight things that were familiar items in a majority of black households. The hand holding the mop, the fire extinguisher, even look 15 is a “dad bbq sandal” — something humorous that only black people would understand.
As the first Black American designer to be invited by the Chambre Syndicale, how does it feel to be a part of Pyer Moss’s historic couture moment? How do you think haute couture has evolved over the years, and what do you think its future holds?
I feel honored and in full gratitude for their trust. Over the years, haute couture has continued to push the limits of the possibility of luxury details while going against the norm. Regarding the future — there are so many great emerging designers currently that I think couture is in good hands. We just have to continue finding innovative ways to tell a story.
Where do you look for creative inspiration?
I find creative inspiration everywhere. Sometimes when I feel creative I take a walk in my neighborhood, other times I look through old hip-hop magazines or watch Hollywood classics.
What advice would you give an up-and-coming fashion stylist?
Assisting stylists is so important as you learn from mistakes, how to prepare shoots, and how to interact with clients. Preparation is key and you must always think of the most unexpected thing that could happen. Always be solution-based, as no one likes excuses. Professionalism is self-explanatory. Keep your eyes on new designers and always be doing research. Keep your mind fresh with creative stimulation.
Going forward, what’s one piece of advice that you carry through your life?
One piece of advice I carry through my life at all times is my Dad saying, “after difficulty comes ease.”