Last week, Jerry Lorenzo put on Fear of God’s first ever runway show at the Hollywood Bowl, featuring a performance from London’s own Sampha
Last week in Los Angeles, California native Jerry Lorenzo staged his debut runway show for Fear of God – the first event of its kind in the brand’s ten-year history. Hosted at the iconic Hollywood Bowl music venue, the event featured 60 looks, a performance by Sampha and an appearance from Pusha T, all while Kanye West, Taraji P Henson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tyler, the Creator, and several thousand members of the public looked on.
The son of a Major League Baseball player and a one-time club promoter, Lorenzo’s journey into fashion began in 2013, when he was asked by Justin Bieber to design five custom looks for his Purpose world tour. He was subsequently asked to design his merch, and from there launched Fear of God, naming it in homage to his Christian faith, producing T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies that melded the aesthetic of brands like Vetements and Raf Simons and, well, references to the Bible. They were a hit, striking a chord with believers, Beliebers and hypebeasts alike.
“I grew up with Christ as the center of my household,” Lorenzo told The Cut in 2016, speaking on the relationship between his faith and his brand. “It was intertwined with everything we did … I was not always a God-fearing man … I came to LA and tried to find my own footing, and in doing so started throwing parties. I used my middle name – Jerry Lorenzo – because I didn’t want to tarnish the Manuel name.”
In the years that followed, Lorenzo established a label that would resonate across the globe, loved for its luxurious take on everyday wear. So why did it take him ten years to stage a runway show? Backstage, he was matter-of-fact: “I’ve never believed in just speaking … I really feel like I finally had something to say,” he said.
That said, he declined to go into too much detail about the show, or the collection itself, instead allowing the clothes – and the music – to do the talking. Blaring out into the Hollywood Hills, the tracklist included early Black gospel music, Nina Simone’s haunting cover of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit and Kanye West’s sampling of it on Blood on the Leaves. “With the music, I needed to share every part of the Christian journey, the Black journey, and not just the parts that people like to pick to celebrate,” he shared. “You know, it’s a beautiful journey. But it’s even more beautiful if you pay attention to every part of it and understand why it is what it is.”
“When I grew up, my dad told me stories of his grandma picking cotton,” he went on. “Now I have the luxury that my staff brings me fabric books, and I get to pick and choose the cotton. So there’s freedom, and there’s a responsibility that comes from a lot of pain. But more than pain, it comes from love.”
The whole event felt incredibly personal right down to the setting – one of the most iconic music venues in the US, which holds a lot of significance for Lorenzo and lies just a stone’s throw from his home. “A beautiful night at the Hollywood Bowl is really hard to beat in LA,” he said. “And so doing it here was both personal and it just felt right … the last show was 30 years ago, [and was by] Calvin Klein, another American designer. So it kind of felt right for many reasons.”
“Me and my wife have seen everyone from Christopher Cross to Steely Dan and Diana Ross to Bon Iver to Nas and Wu-Tang [Clan],” he continued. This is my favourite place in LA.” For his show, Sampha joined this illustrious lineage, performing a stripped-back and spine-tingling set that included some of his best-known tracks, such as Plastic 100°C and (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.
As for the clothes, they displayed Lorenzo’s singular approach to fashion: easy but elevated, simple but sumptuous: loose tailoring, spacious outerwear and luxuriant casual pieces. When asked post-show how he decided what to include in the collection, he said it came down to a very simple question: “Would I wear it?” In a palette of black, brown and camel tones, the clothing was relaxed as it was refined, with a sense of understated – but very much present – luxury.
Former Dazed cover star Lineisy Montero modelled in the show, along with skateboarder, model and musician Sage Elsesser and catwalk king Alton Mason, who was the last to prowl down the runway. Following Mason’s exit, Pusha T made a surprise cameo, performing a short rap and then quitting the stage while fireworks shot into the sky, concluding another one of those beautiful Hollywood nights that Lorenzo spoke so fondly of.