Worlds and Fantasies Collide in David Casavant’s First Book

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David Casavant can’t exactly remember his first Raf Simons purchase but says it must have been in the early aughts from somewhere online. „You couldn’t get it in any stores in the states back then,“ he tells CR. This was back before iPhones, The Real Reel, and Instagram shopping: „You really had to dig.“ Whatever that inaugural order was exactly, surely it remains in arm’s reach of—or at least downstairs to—Casavant today, who owns and operates one of the most extensive private collections of fashion’s long lost secrets. Understandably, he keeps them close to chest: his downtown New York apartment is just one floor above the racks of clothing.

Comprised mostly of vintage Simons, Jil Sander, and Helmut Lang menswear garments from the late ’90s into the 2000s, the assortment first began when Tennessee-born Casavant was 14 and just shopping for himself. As the closet transformed into a full collection, he slowly opened his doors to others. Soon, the David Casavant Archive became a hidden nirvana for those in the know. „I was never into the concept of holding high fashion for just myself,“ he explains. „The great part about having all these pieces is really sharing [them] with others that appreciate the clothes for what they were.“ Now, when designers and stylists are working off concepts that involve the past, they come to Casavant to study the references firsthand. When Kanye West or Travis Scott want to build their fashion cred or Rihanna wants a detail of yesteryear, they come to Casavant to pull.

„I was never into the concept of holding high fashion for just myself.“

This spirit resonates in a new coffee table tome by Casavant—his first to date. Titled after the collection itself, David Casavant Archive is a window not only into archives‘ world but also to the creatives that empower it. „I wanted to make something for cool young people today,“ he explains. „I wanted it to be an object you’d want to own. I wanted it to be an experience. The clothes take me to another world when I view them, and I wanted the book to illustrate that.“

To accomplish this Casavant tasked a small number of his contributors to interpret the archive in anyway they saw fit. For performance artist Ryan McNamara, this meant oceanic creatures in colorful moments of intimacy. While artists Wu Tsang and Boychild photographed each other in revealing vignettes on and off the street. West’s contribution might be the most on the nose: email screenshots that read more like purchase orders than a moodboard. Images from each series are sprinkled throughout the monograph in a non-chronological for an effect that is both surreal and real. Even the book’s foreward by writer Andrew Durbin is more poetic fairy tale than place of context.

Despite his purposeful lack of explanation in the book, pieces from Casavant’s archive are incorporated in each project. They’re bread crumbs for the collector that started nearly a decade and a half ago and continue to fall forward to this day. As Casavant jokes: „it’s like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.“

David Casavant Archive is available online now.

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