Sashay Away!

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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/19/style/fashion-tiktok-sashay-away.html

An erstwhile influencer from Fiji clocked 28 million page views with a homemade video of him strutting a runway wearing a ladder, a bench and other household goods.

A scene from one of Shaheel Prasad’s viral TikTok runway sendups, now in their 15th iteration.
Credit…Shaheel Shermont

It has been two weeks or an internet eternity since Shaheel Sanil Prasad, a.k.a., Shaheel Shermont Flair, a former call center agent and part-time influencer from Suva City in central Fiji, posted one of the funniest catwalk videos ever to hit social media.

First uploaded to TikTok, the 39-second clip showed the 24-year-old making multiple “exits” onto an improvised catwalk (a concrete patio outside his house) wearing a succession of outfits created from mundane household objects. These included a coiled hose, a ladder and a length of corrugated tin worn as a dress.

That the video went viral was not altogether surprising considering how effectively Mr. Prasad satirized the supermodel strut — although barefoot and clad only in a T-shirt and shorts. What surprised Mr. Prasad, who had some minor previous experience with online celebrity, was how big was international reaction to a gag improvised in under an hour with a smartphone set to a timer and deploying what props he could scrounge.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Mr. Prasad said, referring both to the 28 million page views logged so far across social platforms and the attendant hooha. Raveena Tandon, a Bollywood actress, reposted the clip to her Twitter account and wrote, “Hahaha this is the best I’ve seen today!” Jerry Saltz, an American art critic, went Ms. Tandon one better, calling the clip “better than most biennial art.”

Mr. Prasad answered a series of questions about the video with voice mail responses, which have been edited below.

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Credit…Shaheel Shermont

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Credit…Shaheel Shermont

Guy Trebay: This came out of left field. Where did you get the idea for the video?

Shaheel Prasad: I’ve seen some fashion shows where there were over-the-top things, so I’ve always wanted to do something like that in a comedic way.

G.T.: Are you knowledgeable about fashion, or were you thinking about particular designers? A lot of people have said the things you’re wearing remind them of stuff we’ve seen on the runways of Jonathan Anderson, Rick Owens or Craig Green.

S.P.: To be honest, I know nothing about fashion. I’m not a fashionable person, and I do not know any fashion models or any designers or stuff like that. Like, literally, I have no idea.

G.T.: And yet you are now on the 15th iteration of these videos? How was that first one made?

S.P.: I shot it, actually, outside my house. I kept my phone on the ring light, and I put it on the timer, and it was, like, 10 seconds a look and then time to run back and, you know, wear those other things. The whole thing took less than 20 minutes or so, with the timing and all and carrying in the stuff.

G.T.: Obviously, there was some degree of preparation. Not everybody can improvise wearing an aluminum walker or carrying an upside-down human as an accessory.

S.P.: Sometimes I would go around my house and think: What absurd thing would I wear?

G.T.: You’ve made other videos that are hilarious. I’m thinking of one where you lip sync over the voice of a frenetic playback singer from a Bollywood movie while dressed in a T-shirt worn as a headdress. That one got more than a million views Still, the response to “Fashion Shows Be Like,’’ must have come as a surprise.

S.P.: It was such a shock. There have been a few viral videos I had previously, but I never ever got such a big viral video. The most I had before was, like, 2.6 million page views. The fact that it blew up on TikTok in the United States, in the Philippines, in India and got shared so much on Twitter and Instagram was a big deal for me. Actually, it was news all over the world. There have even been fashion critics reposting it, like—Jerry Saltz, I think is his surname.

G.T.: Have you been recruited by fashion labels to collaborate or to attend the shows?

S.P.: I wouldn’t say approached, but people keep requesting me to do more. At the end of the day, this is a trend that will be bound to end. But meanwhile I will try to keep doing it as long as I can, so let’s see.

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