One Joint With Pierre Davis, Founder and Designer of No Sesso
“What I thrive on is not having any rules in general,” says Pierre Davis, designer and founder of Los Angeles-based fashion house No Sesso—“no gender” in Italian. Through her often hand-embroidered designs, special events and shows, Davis dresses and empowers those of every and any identity, particularly POC and non-binary individuals who might not otherwise have felt at home or even seen by high fashion and luxury. No Sesso exists as an inclusive brand, but also as a form of peaceful protest.
Alyssa Shapiro: Will you tell me about the first time you ever got high?
Pierre Davis: It was during my senior year of high school, with friends. We were hanging out after school one day, my girlfriends had weed, and we just smoked. Kicked it. Watched a lot of movies and ate snacks. After school. Sex and the City. Lots of Hot Cheetos.
AS: Sounds familiar. What’s your relationship to weed now?
PD: I smoke here and there. For the most part though, I like edibles when I’m relaxing. I smoke when I’m chilling; I’m not an all-day smoker.
AS: What inspires you, what inspires No Sesso?
PD: A lot of No Sesso is based on my mood. If I want to wear baggy jeans with pockets all over them one day, and then a silk gown the next day… No Sesso’s style is a whole crazy concept. It’s not based off one thing.
AS: Do you employ artisans to work on the embroidery in your pieces?
PD: I do a lot of the hand embroidery myself, with one other person. I was embroidering “No Sesso” into everything, I was over everything being screen-printed. That’s so LA-culture. I wanted something that was a little different.
How would you define your approach to life?
Just doing it. Making sure I’m finding whatever I need to get me through. When I’m my best I know I’ll be able to help others. …
AS: How do you want to help others, what are you doing now?
PD: Some of the smaller things are making sure shows are free, and that we give people platforms, making sure No Sesso is accessible and for everyone. And we teach embroidery workshops as therapy. We have really sick playlists and teach embroidery classes. This year we did one with Nike for Air Max Day which was really cool.
AS: Tell me more about embroidery as therapy.
PD: When I was embroidering, making a lot of these intricate pieces… the practice, just zoning out, doing this thing over and over for so long, it’s soothing and satisfying. You’re embroidering these stories into these garments. People that wear them can feel them sometimes. Some of my friends that wear the garments can feel all of the time and love that was put into them.
AS: Embroidery as meditation.
PD: Absolutely. When we teach the classes, they’re two to three hours long, and we teach it as if it were yoga. The first hour of the class is teaching everyone three different embroidery techniques. We supply the hoop and the needle and the thread so that each person can take it with them and use it when they want to relax later on. And then the last two hours go by so fast because after they get the techniques, they’re making something and filling it in. And we have a cool playlist. It’s a lot of cool people coming together. Normally I like to do smaller classes, no more than 25-30 people. When the classes are smaller it’s a lot more fun, and people are able to zone out.
AS: Is it beneficial to you as a designer to be removed from the confines of capital-F Fashion as it exists in New York? Do you get more mental space here in LA?
PD: I’m doing well without it. LA has a lot of resources for fashion design. There’s so much access, and the Fashion District is one of my favorite places in the city. LA is a little more relaxed with fashion. I have a lot of friends who are doing amazing things, and they’re in the design world. Phlemuns. Kenneth Nicholson. We have our own little community and it’s really cool because we’re in our own lanes. The competition isn’t as vicious as it is in New York.
What I thrive on is not having any rules in general. LA gets to make our own rules when it comes to fashion. We’re not in New York, and we don’t have to go by that timeline. I like to design and put work out when I want to.
AS: So much of No Sesso is about living freely, not being boxed in. How do you feel about the rate of progress when it comes to non-binary and trans acceptance? What’s your temperature gauge of what’s going on in the world?
PD: There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, a whole lot of work that needs to be done. Lately everything feels like it’s being rewound back. The government is part of it, for sure. It’s one of those cycles. As much as we progress, there’s a lot of bullshit. The cycles can be broken but we need more people, not even to bring awareness, we need more people to be aware.
There’s so much that goes into what trans people have to deal with on a daily basis, it’s crazy. Maybe people should reach out to trans people and help out that way. Even small things, like making sure you check up on your friends, or anyone in the community. Support different Go Fund Mes for people, for housing. Listen to people a lot more. Go online and do research. Ask people in your community.
AS: If you have trans people in your community, that’s one thing, but the problem is the people who maybe aren’t aware of people in their community, or who don’t have trans people in their community.
PD: I just think people need to get over these old customs that have been built from years and years of foolery.
AS: So if there were anything you could say to someone…
PD: Wake the fuck up! No. [Laughs.] Just be more aware of your surroundings and what’s really happening.
AS: You’ve talked about No Sesso being a form of longterm peaceful protest…
PD: Black Femmes always front and forward. I’m just saying, our brand is all about POC — it’s for everyone but we make sure we’re doing peaceful protest for people who identify like us.
AS: So what does identity mean to you?
PD: People make identity harder than what it needs to be. It’s what you want to identify as, and what you see yourself as. Identity to me, for me, I don’t care what anyone else thinks.
Pierre Davis at her Silver Lake home, photographed and interviewed by Alyssa Shapiro.