The 19 year old stylist who dropped out of Yale to help turn Kanye West into one of today’s foremost style icons. Opening Ceremony caught up with Cassius Clay, talk about fashion, his collection of Hermes scarves and his favourite stylists.
Sofia Cavallo: What was your parents’ reaction when you told them you were taking a semester off from Yale to work with Kanye West?
Cassius Clay: My father is in his 80’s and my mother in her 60’s so they’re not exactly Kanye’s typical listening demographic. Still, they could appreciate opportunity and were very supportive of a productive pause in my track at Yale. My mother made a Twitter account to follow Kanye (not me) and I’ve found both Graduation and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in my father’s car.
SC: What were you wearing at the age of 10?
CC: My school had a dress code of khakis with collared shirts for the younger boys. Dissatisfied with the informality of khakis, I adopted a personal uniform of exclusively white turtlenecks, grey flannel trousers, and black & white spectator shoes. I look back on it now as a dedicated engagement with minimalism (and self-caricature). Occasionally on weekends at home I would pretend to be a pharaoh with amulet and scepter.
SC: Do you have any favorite stylists?
CC: Anna Della Russo succeeds in making fun elegant and elegance fun. Brana Wolf is fluent but not overbearing in her allusions to film and literature. Grace Coddington is relentlessly witty.
SC: What makes the perfect look for you?
CC: An external reflection of personality that admits both reality and imagination. I haven’t decided whether enthusiastic matching or dramatic juxtaposition is more contrived – or if that self-awareness is necessarily a bad thing – but both are to be respected for the thought that goes into them. Comfort is indulgent and ultimately forgettable.
SC: What are you currently obsessed with?
CC: Charles Dickens, truffles, gloves from Givenchy Fall/Winter 2010, taxidermy (including the DEYROLLE POUR OPENING CEREMONY scarves!), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), the Orient Express — and Nicki Minaj!
SC: Do you collect anything?
CC: I scour auctions for rare prints or discontinued colorways of Hermès scarves. I also collect the the “no-no” reserved signs from the Jane Hotel, matchboxes from the Bowery Hotel, and cellphone pictures of the Empire State Building as viewed from the Standard Hotel.
SC: What is one thing in the world that everyone should try?
CC: Ideally: the epautre risotto at Taillevent in Paris. Practically: taking one’s jeans to a tailor.
SC: OC is themed on the idea of travel and bringing back souvenirs. What cool things have you brought back from recent trips?
CC: A really wonderful friend from Abu Dhabi gave me a gold necklace spelling out my name in Arabic – easily my most treasured souvenir.
SC: How would you have answered the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” six months ago, five years ago and today?
CC: Five years ago: to be taller than my brothers; a diplomat. Six months ago: to be an art scholar or critic. Today: to be an editor, a collector, or a museum curator.