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In Conversation with Stylist David Casavant

The fashion industry cult figure talks his new book, in which he enlisted the help of Kanye West, model Hanne Gaby, artist Raul de Nieves, and more to reinterpret his eponymous clothing archive.
Reading time 9 minutes

David Casavant is not your typical member of the fashion pack. For one, he does things on his own terms, operating an expansive clothing archive out of his downtown New York City apartment overlooking the harbor. And two, he meets me dressed in a neutral gray t-shirt and shorts ensemble, teetering on athleisure, but with a more succinct, sophisticated edge. No flashy labels or nauseating prints in sight; this is his uniform, and he wears it well.

“When I was younger, I didn’t have anyone [else] to share it with,” he tells me about the nascent stages of his relationship with fashion, simultaneously musing about the racks, upon racks of clothing that have taken over his living room and a bedroom down the corridor. “I didn't know as many people into fashion, it wasn't as popular then, [and] I didn't work in fashion.”

Casavant has been collecting clothes since he was 14. Having grown up in Tennessee, his attraction to fashion began on the Internet, where he would spend hours scrolling through the now-defunct before venturing into another frequented digital fashion destination: eBay. When it came time for college, he was granted admission to Central Saint Martins, where he took a crack at fashion design before a professor aptly insisted his true talents lied in styling. He then relocated to New York City where, like most members of the C Suite, he began to hustle, assisting Carine Roitfeld, Katie Grand, and Mel Ottenberg. A total 180 from his days of solitude in the South.

“Now, I like the aspect where I can share [fashion] or other people can borrow my things, that connection aspect to other people.” Connect he does. Casavant has shared his love of clothes (and extensive collection of archival Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, Dior Homme, and more) with the likes of  A$AP Rocky, Kim Kardashian, Travis Scott, among others. “I think the connection itself is what's most important about it with me. Or the idea that other people can use it to express themselves.”

That connection will keep growing, thanks to the release of his first-ever book. Titled David Casavant Archive, it marks a pivotal moment in the 28-year-old’s career, a reflection and culmination of his passion for clothing and his time within the industry. But don’t be fooled, it’s not all about David. For the project, he enlisted the help of his most trusted friends and previous collaborators to produce an archive in action. The result is an unapologetic, unfiltered, explosion of creativity that leaps off each page, a welcome departure from your run-of-the-mill standard “fashun” coffee table book.

To many, such a feat would be a really big deal, but for Casavant, the vision was always there.

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Courtesy David Casavant Archive

ABRAHAM MARTINEZ: If you were filling out a questionnaire, what would you put under occupation?

DAVID CASAVANT: I haven't figured that out yet! They're all different. If it's something very business-y, I'd write entrepreneur; on my taxes, I think it says Fashion Stylist. I consider myself a stylist because that's where I started, but I like to evolve it into something next-step. Like, what is the next version of a stylist today. So I think something that interprets the idea of like, 'I'm someone that uses clothes to sort of express or make things,' I guess.


With this book, would you say it's more a culmination of your archive, or is it more the archive in action?

I think archive in action. I like that.


You can have it!

I think that's perfect. I have an archive in action. I think I'd describe it as that because the problem I've always had with saying ‘archive’ or 'I'm an archivist' is [that] I never really considered myself that because I don't collect clothes with the intention of preserving them.


Like temperature-controlled shit and all that?

Right, the historical value. I mean, that's important to me, but it's more about them being in action and being used.


Were you a part of each artist’s process, or did you just sort of give them the clothes and let them have at it?

It depends on the shoot. Some of them, they just came over and took the clothes and went off and did whatever. Some, I did styling.


Is there one you reacted strongly to?

In terms of, should we say 'Oh my God, I love it,' or 'I'm so shocked?'


I'm down with both, but if you want to say you love 'em all, I get that too.

To be honest, I don't think I was shocked by anything because I'm pretty unshockable. It's hard to pick and choose because I really loved everyone's for different reasons. I wouldn't have chosen them otherwise. Everyone I chose, I chose because I knew I'd get excited by what they did; they're all kind of on similar levels.


What was it like to hold the book in your hands for the first time when you got the first copy from the publishers?

It was good, but not as good as I'd thought it would be because I'd been anticipating [it] so much that I had already held it in my head. It kind of felt like nothing new because, basically, it turned out exactly how I wanted it to turn out, not different at all.


Amazing!  That never happens.

Yeah, right? So when I got it, it didn't feel like that, I wouldn't say it wasn’t exciting, but, I wasn't as excited as I thought I would be because I felt like I had already seen it before.


Right, like you had already sort of pictured yourself with it before.

Yeah. I would look at it every night sort of on the computer, with the pictures, and I would envision how it would be in person. I got sort of used to it, nonetheless, I still get excited every time I see it.


Gotcha. And at any point, making the book, was it ever difficult to kind of mediate between the stronger personalities that you worked with, or have you kind of figured it out by now?

I didn't choose anyone I thought, I didn't get really fashion people to do this because, one of the reasons was I just didn't want to go through all that diva-ness.


That does still exist.

You know what I mean? Like, fashion photographers are their own breed of something, as people working in fashion are just used to having to claw their way to get things. That's not really what this project was about. It was supposed to be about getting together and creating something cool and it not being about one person's glory, which is funny to say, because I have Kanye [West] in here. He gets it. He's someone who understands the task at hand and that this isn't some kind of music video. Everyone was like that. Joyce [Ng] can be very picky, funny, and stubborn in certain ways, but I like that about her. She went for the biggest production shoot.

Everyone was super easy to work with. I remember during this process, I was talking to someone who said, 'Oh artists, they're just unmanageable, and, you know, they won't follow your deadlines.’ I said something like, 'Well, I've worked with all these people and I have experience with them, so I think they're all going to be excited,’ never expecting any more from it than that.


Were you surprised by any of these interpretations?

Let me think. In a way, no. It's not like I knew exactly what I would get, but I knew what that person was about, so I knew if they were about surprise, I would get a surprise. Or something like that.

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Courtesy David Casavant Archive

David Casavant Archive is available now at David Casavant and Amazon

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