Most days the sounds of raucous laughter, staccato vibrations from sewing machines, and nostalgic ’90s jams fill L.A.-based designer Pierre Davis’s apartment on Hoover Street. The tiny live-work space, fondly referred to as the “Hoover House,” is headquarters for the 29-year-old’s red-hot label, No Sesso, which she helms with creative director Arin Hayes. Her friends often swing by to help bring her vibrant, handmade designs to life—and to hang out. “I have them beading, embroidering, and cutting out patterns,” says Davis. “It’s just all of us there together, watching music videos and getting inspired.”
While No Sesso’s studio remains a small operation, the company has made a huge name for itself since quietly debuting four years ago. Transforming from a kind of DIY art project into a calling card for L.A. cool kids, its fans include guitarist Steve Lacy, model Paloma Elsesser, and singer-songwriter Kelsey Lu. Known for its innovative, genderless silhouettes (No Sesso is Italian for “no sex”) and textural playfulness, the label was born from Davis’s desire to make garments for people of any gender, size, or body type. Inclusivity and community have been integral parts of the company’s DNA since its inception. Davis and Hayes often use their friends and fellow artists as models, prioritizing queer folks and people of color. “Our runways reflect our real life,” says Hayes.
Until recently the label showed its collections at local institutions like the Getty, where they made a splash last summer with a basketball-and-baroque-inspired show staged in the museum’s fountains.
But this year No Sesso reached a benchmark coveted by West Coast fashion brands: a turn on the catwalks of New York Fashion Week, making Davis the first transgender woman included on the official Council of Fashion Designers of America schedule. Since showing at NYFW can be costly, No Sesso threw a few underground DJ parties to raise money to fly the whole L.A. fam to New York, staying together in an Airbnb in Brooklyn, cooking meals at home and schlepping boxes around town via Uber. Critics lavished praise on the collection’s whimsical but substantial “executive business bitch” style. Vogue hailed Davis as part of a new generation of California artists “creating safe spaces for communities outside Hollywood’s celebrity-obsessed bubble.”
Davis and Hayes are now back at Hoover HQ, working on a collection of Pride Month merch for Bloomingdale’s and their new AW19 collection. Wading into the mainstream is a huge step, but they won’t be going it alone. “I’m excited for everybody that’s coming up with us,” says Hayes. “Building a platform for all of us is what’s important.”
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