Fair enough. But his choice of subject matter has the effect of making the poetically self-conscious color wheel stylings of Sies Marjan and the creased cocktail florals of Jason Wu, both pretty as they are, seem increasingly narrow and small in focus.
At least Prabal Gurung’s 10th-anniversary show, which had the pertinent and somewhat flammable title, “Who Gets to Be an American?” (inspired by both a 2018 Time magazine cover and a disheartening conversation the designer had with a financier), dared grapple with a bigger question.
That Mr. Gurung chose to answer it by settling on a hodgepodge of stereotypical fashion tropes — white cotton, denim, seersucker, red, white and blue, power suiting, benefit circuit dresses — and then reinterpreting them his own way, adding flounces to the denim, hippie tie-dye to the flag-waving, and peacenik pastel florals to the suiting, frittered away some of the point. The connection between identity and dress was the right one, but there was too much focus on surface.
By contrast, Mr. Jean-Raymond is preoccupied with essence, with an ability to make it personal. He was willing to sit a season out, as he did last February, because he needed more time to map out his ideas, and because he thinks consumers need time, too, to save money to buy clothes. But he won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award last year. He is outside the system and also of it.
In a post-show interview backstage at King’s Theatre, he said thought he could use fashion to correct the record because “I don’t care about selling clothes” and, in the same breath, that “I want to make money.” It sounds absurd, but in his world, those two realities can coexist. The ability to not worry about the one lays the groundwork for the second. It could be a genuine game changer.