A couple weeks ago, a large group of us gathered on the Lower East Side to see the debut collection of an anonymous fashion label called Section 8. Almost everyone there knew who was behind the “anonymous” project, but none of us knew what to expect: a collection of womenswear that carefully unfurled and mapped out an uncanny office-to-club aesthetic; the textures and color palette of 90s Fubu re-molecularized into a meditation on business casual; a runway of models walking with dead koi fish in their mouths. In the days that followed, some clickbait “hottest new label” headlines cropped up, and a picture of Pamela Anderson – a well-documented vegan – in a full Section 8 look surfaced on Instagram (with no fish in her mouth). Shortly after that, a screenshot of an angry email from Anderson’s publicist made its way to the Internet as well.
Even when the purpose of hiding one’s identity is to drive focus towards content, fashion’s climate of industrialized self-promotion will always turn anonymity into a provocation. In the case of a new label like Section 8, this provocation has unfolded into an exercise in Dadaist PR strategy. When you google Section 8, the first thing that comes up is the Wikipedia page on Section 8 Public Housing, a program now helmed by the neuroscientist and Donald Trump crony Dr. Ben Carson. Is this an educational experience, maze of dead ends, or just as stated: a collection of women’s clothing? As HBA stylist and suspected Section 8 co-designer Akeem Smith said to Vogue, “We just lived through an era where getting too much attention made someone the actual president. And so, we’re like, ‘We don’t want attention.’”
There is a power to creating disruptive gaps in the way culture is normally communicated and ingested, which is the reason why my own curiosity grew when Section 8 sent me four backstage portraits from their collection taken by photographer Pierre-Ange Carlotti. I then wrote to someone who I thought was Smith, asking about the koi fish in particular, a visual metaphor that seemed to be plucked directly from ancient mythology. The response to my questions came from a Section 8 spokesperson named Gert Naida: “A fish in the mouth is an end to discussion.”
Section 8’s showroom will be open in Paris from March 5 to 8. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.