how seven brands joined hands and created blissful fashion week anarchy
Shauna and Misha of P.A.M. talk to i-D about NO SHOW OFFICIAL, their revolutionarily joyful approach to a fashion show.
Photography Piotr Niepsuj
How do you create chaos in a system that’s fine tuned to run like clockwork? On the streets of Paris this season, the fashion week cognoscenti had the rug pulled from beneath their feet as seven brands broke code and showcased their work together.
Joined by artists, performers and musicians throughout the night, models (or rather friends and collaborators of the designers) roamed the streets of the third arrondissement handing out flowers, wearing outfits styled to feature everybody, rather than one person’s work. Shauna Toohey and Misha Hollenbach of P.A.M. (Perks and Mini) were the de facto leaders of the show. The six others that joined them? Aries, Some Ware, United Standard, Facetasm, Come Tees and Adish. The crew was fleshed out with stylists Francesca Cefis, Berenger Pelc, Kubo Gr8, Riku Oshimu, make-up artist Giulia Cigarini, and a soundsystem provided by Low Jack, Collapsing Market, Kiki Kudo, Georgia BC, Clara!, Eszaid, Hanne Lippard and Maoupa Mazzocchetti.
Ego has got in the way of ideas like Shauna and Misha’s before, so what was it about this septet of designers that helped them pull off the plan? With Shauna having escaped the heat of the French capital for the refuge of the nearby countryside (“It was a mission: bike, train, bike, lake, bike, bar, bike, train, home!” she laughs) and an envious Misha still stuck in scorching Paris, the duo came together to tell us about the power of DIY, fucking with the industry hierarchy and the symbolic weight of flowers to the No Show Official collective.
We know that it's a collective effort all about inclusion, but whose brilliant idea was NO SHOW OFFICIAL, and who made this madcap dream a reality?
Shauna: Some people had been telling us that we really need to do a presentation for PAM during men’s fashion week. We had always resisted the idea of a traditional presentation or show as it doesn’t fit with our ethos, but then Misha woke up one morning and told me that, maybe, we should talk to Some Ware and do something together. I thought about it and agreed, but thought it would be nice to ask even more friends to join. Naturally, a music component was discussed, as well as photographers, people to wear our clothes, a location and an installation. Although we only had six weeks, it came together with surprising ease and serendipity. It even turned out that the night we chose to do it was also Fête de la Musique: a day in Paris where you can play music on the street with no permit or noise restrictions until midnight.
Misha: Madcap dream? Precisely! One night I woke up at 4am and realised we should do a fashion show where we block a street with a van. Then I texted Cali to see if Some Ware were coming for PFW; I suggested we do a show together, went back to bed, told Shauna upon waking and then texted Giorgio from United Standard about the same thing. He got excited and spurred further conversation through to Sofia at Aries and so on and so on. The catalyst was the epiphany that we all have something to say and share through our brands, and that we’ll all be in Paris during Fashion Week, so why not say something together?
NO SHOW OFFICIAL brings together seven labels, and extended communities of stylists, performers, friends. What unites you all?
Shauna: Friendship, community, respect and timing brought us together, and Paris Fashion Week brought us together at that moment. We started with the idea that it should be a way for us all to show our spring/summer 20 collections but in a new way. There were only two rules: it has to be spring/summer 20, and the looks have to be mixed, not a single brand.
Misha: We all love what we do. We all value our independence and we all respect one another and together all of our visions unite: freedom, joy, fun, and colour!
What attracted you to this format that blasts the dust from what a conventional fashion show looks like, and what could the on-schedule shows learn from NO SHOW OFFICIAL?
Shauna: We’ve been talking a lot about celebrating and promoting the group and not the individual. When you work together for a common good there’s so much more joy. It’s very powerful. The system needs to change, or alternatively, we also need to have the power to work outside the system. There’s too much stuff getting made every season and too much being shown. Coming together reduces the need for every label to make complete outfits just to show looks, as we know a lot of that stuff doesn’t get made. Instead, our audience can see seven labels and experience music and performance in a single event. It gives a lot during the week when people have such hectic schedules. On [the subject of] sustainability, I question why people make things in the first place. It’s great to make your designs sustainably, but not making stuff at all is an even stronger stance to take. We were trying to find a real way to show our collections in an honest way and I think we did that.
Misha: We are on the schedule, it’s just an alternative schedule! Creativity is not governed by which company you work for, which fashion house is doing what, how many likes it’s had online or how many people were in the queue. I believe the conventional fashion machine model is over. NO SHOW don’t need to challenge this system, they have their own challenges. We are merely showing an alternative. Our show (a real ‘Parisian Street’ setting) didn’t need a budget, nor did it need unnecessary resources. It didn’t require sponsors or PR, or hierarchical seating arrangements, or extravagant invites that say: ‘WTF am I going to do with this?’ But it did need to evoke joy and energy from so many happy, great people: creatives, participants and visitors alike. NO SHOW showed fashion, but actually, who cares? Money cannot buy you style, and definitely not energy.
Alongside flowers and good vibes, what would you like visitors to take away from NO SHOW OFFICIAL?
Shauna: Do It Yourself. You have more power than you realise.
Misha: That this was about the moment. We weren’t selling the new collections, we were showing people dressed in new collections as a catalyst that engaged and transferred energy. The flowers were symbols of this gesture, the gesture to reflect on the idea that we are all in this together.
On the subject of flowers, could you tell us which flower each brand would be?
Shauna: PAM would be a lithops weberi; Some Ware, a sunflower; Adish would be a peace lily; Facetasm, a bat face cuphea; Aries, a passion flower; United Standard a sea holly, and Come Tees would be round leaved sundew.