Hennessy V.S.O.P is teaming up with young creators in food, fashion, art, and music—Future Forward thinkers who push boundaries, celebrate community, and elevate culture.
“You should be able to wear whatever you want, whenever you want,” says clothing designer and artist Pierre Davis over the phone from California. While this shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept for the fashion industry, it certainly was back in 2015 when Davis launched her brand No Sesso.
Unlike the major labels that were pushing boxy sweaters and basic jeans as “unisex,” Davis was creating intricate garments with upcycled fabrics and patchwork designs that everyone could look sexy in, regardless of gender or size.
“I wanted to see clothing for people just like myself,” said Davis, who’s earned the fandom of numerous stylish celebrities. “It doesn't matter how you identify. It's just the comfort of being able to put on whatever you want to wear.”
By simply being true to herself, the LA-based designer has helped shift the staid monoculture of fashion. Countless publications have touted the label as a harbinger of the diversity and inclusion desperately needed in the industry by crafting designs that are inextricably linked to the black and queer experience. But as Davis explains, when she created No Sesso, which means “no gender/sex” in Italian, her aim wasn’t simply to “push boundaries.”
“There's so much more to us than just being put into certain boxes for clickbait, you know?”
Davis developed her love of fashion at a young age and began sewing in middle school, inspired by the styling in her mom’s hair magazines. After enrolling as a fashion student at the Art Institute of Seattle in 2008, it didn’t take long before she was invited to showcase her garments—specifically her leather patchwork jackets—at galleries and art shows.
“Anyone can just throw clothes on, but it takes real talent and art to understand how garments are constructed together,” explains Davis. “We’re artists.”
Davis designs No Sesso alongside cofounder and creative equal Autumn Randolph, who has a background in dance and styling. That background outside of fashion, has actually informed some of the creative design choices the two have made with the label, and shows how diverse perspectives can influence creative outputs. “My perspective has played an important role in the growth of the brand,” says Randolph. “I believe because I have a long history of art practice through dance, whether as a performer or choreographer through style fashion and beauty and just my personal lens.”
Having a diverse background in the arts, says Randolph, makes her feel “fully confident in my taste of glamour or my minimalism, and I think all of these help to bring our world to life.
Fittingly, the two cofounders first met at the MOCA museum in Los Angeles. Together, they’ve continuously pushed the brand to evolve with each new collection, bringing in more creatives of color to help along the way. Over the past six years, they’ve made everything from dresses and jackets covered in prints of concrete and wood to collage-like jersey dresses that take equal inspiration from ancient Greece and the NBA.
In 2019, Davis made history at New York Fashion Week, becoming the first Black trans woman designer to show on the CFDA’s official calendar. But it’s always been important that No Sesso’s work remains accessible to its community, no matter how big the brand grows. So in 2020, the brand brought its fall ready-to-wear presentation back to Davis’ and Randolph’s hometown, to ensure their LA community could attend. They even took the unconventional route of announcing the event on social media and making it open to the public. The presentation not only highlighted the brand’s creativity, but also its growing collective of peers, who helped with everything from the choreography to the soundtrack.
“We like to bring in new faces, whether there's new people that we meet when we're out at events or at a party or whether we stumble across someone on social media. We are always surrounded by just really beautiful, interesting people inside and out,” says Randolph.
Due to a pandemic-driven hiatus, Randolph and Davis were given some extra time to hone in on their craft and develop their latest offering. In December, the brand unveiled its 19-piece Ghetto Gold collection at Art Basel in Miami. The garments were presented in a formal art space as part of Jefferey Deitch’s “Shattered Glass” exhibit, which highlighted 40 international artists of color.
“We wanted to take our time and go back to when we were not on the fashion calendar,” said Davis. “We kept our word and just waited until the time was right and we thought that it was time to put out this work of art, because that's what it is.”
While the No Sesso team has always hand sewn garments, Ghetto Gold marks its first entirely couture collection. Everything from rabbit fur handbags to a patchwork ostrich corset and a charmeuse gown with bondage straps were made by hand.
“We kind of worked with what our eyes were drawn to, which were just a lot of jewels and feathers, decorative things,” says Randolph.
As they developed the collection, the team pulled from a diverse array of sources of inspiration. “Everything is done with purpose,” says Davis. “And there's so much meaning behind this collection, from Afro-futurism to new life.” As an added visual element, No Sesso produced a corresponding lookbook for the collection, featuring a cast of all-black models resplendent in deified poses.
Looking ahead, the brand is slated to unveil its next collection at New York Fashion Week in February, with a highly anticipated collaboration with Levis. Although No Sesso has got the fashion world’s attention, it’s still committed to making work that centers the people who make it and their community.
“We are just going to keep pushing forward,” says Davis, “by creating and being our most authentic self.”