when kanye wants to borrow raf, he turns to david casavant
Archival fashion geek David Casavant loans out his massive collection of rare Raf Simons and Helmut Lang to everyone from industry stylists to Kanye West.
Photography Christelle de Castro
Filled with thousands of pieces of archival menswear from the likes of Yohji Yamamoto, Dior Homme, and Jil Sander, David Casavant's one-bedroom apartment in New York City's Financial District was bursting at its seams.
Casavant's living room was packed with rows of rolling racks - carrying a meticulously organized selection of some of menswear's most treasured history. His bedroom floor was tiled in rows of Raf Simons and Saint Laurent shoes, and his oven even doubled as a home for overflowing accessories. Casavant wasn't living with his collection; he was living in it.
Fast forward four months and Casavant, 24 years old, finds himself in a sprawling two-bedroom apartment in the same building. His collection now has its own bedroom, anchored with a mural by artist RJ Raizk. Casavant frequently loans his pieces to Rihanna and is credited in nearly every magazine in the business. If Kanye West is spotted wearing vintage Raf Simons or Helmut Lang, chances are the pieces are on loan from Casavant's personal collection. Paul McCartney even wore his Helmut Lang jacket in the "FourFiveSeconds" video. His archive has arguably become one of the fashion industry's best-kept secrets, and it's easy to see why. Casavant owns everything from snakeskin Gucci bell-bottoms to a Raf Simons x Peter Saville leather parka from the AW03 collection - his archive of thousands of rare finds is enough to make any fashion fan drool.
What began as a hobby when Casavant was a teenager in Tennessee ultimately developed into something much more meaningful. "I just really loved clothes when I was a teenager. I would go to vintage stores and collect weird shit," explained Casavant. His obsession with Raf and Helmut came when Casavant began trolling Style.com. "I really related to what [Raf] was doing as a designer compared to everyone else. Next was Helmut. They did what hadn't been done in menswear; they made something new for the time. Menswear hadn't changed in ages. For Raf, he brought the whole youth subculture street dressing to high fashion. It sort of became recognized as high fashion."
Despite the jaw-dropping amount of clothing and accessories that he's managed to curate in such short time, don't call him a hoarder. "All I have are clothes. There's no doll collection," Casavant jokes.
Casavant's archive really started to come into focus after he graduated from Central Saint Martins and moved to New York, where he worked as a stylist assistant for Carine Roitfeld, Katie Grand, and Mel Ottenberg. "I eventually began bringing my stuff to shoots. I kind of already had a ridiculous amount of stuff. I didn't even buy for me to wear it all the time." It didn't take long for Casavant to recognize the potential of his collection, "I started to ask to be credited in shoots, and then I thought I should do rentals." Casavant can have upwards of 200 pieces out on loan each week, with stylists and their assistants stopping by constantly to pull items. However, Kanye elected to come by personally.
"He went through everything, he loved it, which was great. If you can please Kanye, you can please anyone. It was just great to talk to someone, like him, who has so much access to things. It was great to hear his opinions and why he appreciated the clothes and how much he loved getting to see things in person."
When he isn't giving house tours to Kanye or lending for spreads in magazines such as Vogue Italia, Casavant puts his collection to good use as a young stylist, collaborating with like-minded young artists. When we spoke, Casavant was prepping for a project with friend and 'new media master' Jacolby Satterwhite. He is most interested in finding the right combination of art and fashion: "I want to take the idea of what it means to put Jacolby in certain clothes or old Raf Simons and the context behind it and how he interprets it into his art. We both want to do something cool that hasn't been done a lot. One of the reasons I do the archive and loan so much is because I love to see the way that clothes get interpreted."
Casavant's expansive archive serves as a treasure trove of rare pieces for the young creative class. "For me, it's about youth energy - bringing something new to the table. I loan to lots of my friends and young stylists. I love having a resource for them to use. It's about doing the next thing in fashion even though this is all old stuff. Bringing back their ideas, which is what they did when they first designed these clothes."
Text Devin Barrett
Photography Christelle De Castro