In ‘Won / One / Whah Gwan’ Brandon Lajoie and Gregory Miller stage a hybrid runway show without beginning or end

Fog elided the corners of the room. Models descended the stairs with aching slowness, circulating around the musical duo Patch+, whose distorted voices echoed through the gutted former bank. The models stopped for a moment along the front wall, falling into shadow behind the work lamps. One passed a joint into the audience.

Some attendees had received an email a few hours before that same Thursday, May 30, featuring a time, a title (Won / One / Whah Gwan), and some slight context: “Together, today, in New York, we will use fashion, as a performance medium, disguised as a party to preview the brand.” Others probably chanced upon people spilling out the glass doors of 93 Canal Street and decided to step in.

The brand in question was Skip Fame, the label from the Jamaican Canadian designer Brandon Lajoie. Hats with modular velcro patches, oversized frayed-edge shorts intercut with different fabrics, and sleeveless hoodies with exaggerated shoulder pads comprised Won / One / Whah Gwan’s distorted sportswear reality. “My intentions were to push the design philosophy of Skip Fame by presenting exaggerated silhouettes and branding elements,” Lajoie explains of the forms. “The deconstructed garments and upcycled materials show the possibilities of making the most of what you have to achieve your ideas.”

The idea to stage a show came that Monday. “I think that sudden choice gave us a huge motive and a huge push to find solutions that we may not have found otherwise,” Lajoie reflects. “We worked with only what we had available, so we used everything to its fullest potential.” The results were precise, unified, and singular—creating a total work of art by doing the most with the least. “We selected from every piece that I had—archives, samples, newer designs—and freestyled on the spot liquidly,” Lajoie says of the process for choosing which garments to display.

He collaborated with art director, stylist, and DJ Gregory Miller, who conceived and co-produced the evening. The goal, Miller says, wasn’t the typical runway show. “I didn’t want people to know when it started and ended. I just wanted people to relax first and settle into it,” he explains. “It was a little bit mysterious. It was like when people used to go to secret shows, they’d have to search for it or just stumble upon something interesting.” It might’ve read as much as a DIY set as an early-hours rave (Miller hit the decks as Bloodcore, and Sausha and Ayegy also DJed) or as much performance art as a fashion presentation. Miller notes that it was critical that neither the music nor the fashion took precedence: “Neither was the background to the other.”

For Lajoie, who created Skip Fame as an extension of his label Final Loss, the name says it all. “The name is the philosophy behind the design and behind the approach. It’s about skipping the idea of doing something just to get famous, skipping doing something just for notoriety.” From the fog last Thursday emerged something less easy to identify than a star-studded runway: the fashion show as a moment to come together and appreciate sound, movement, and clothes in themselves.