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Jeauni Cassanova Sees Clothing as an Invitation

"I think some people view it as armor," says the creator and collector. "I'm not trying to keep anyone away as much as I'm just trying to let the right people in."

Julian Camilo
Jeauni Cassanova Sees Clothing as an Invitation
Jeauni Cassanova
Juan Vigoya
Makeup Artist:
Jake Dupont

Jeauni Cassanova is perched on top of a marble mantel, mesh-gloved hands adjusting the bustled train of a Vivienne Westwood dress. “I love the built-in titty,” Cassanova says, gesturing downwards to the padded bustier. “That, and it's meant to have a whale's tail so you can show your ass crack.” The gown is one of the most impressive scores in a collection brimming with rare designer archival pieces and idiosyncratic vintage treasures, marked down from something like $8,000 retail to $1,500 at the sample sale to under $500 thanks to a friendship Cassanova struck up with one of the regular employees at the sales.

Despite the current pose, Cassanova is far more than an object to be admired: the layers of tulle and taffeta contain rich narratives, well-studied reference points, and a sense of romance that draws people in. Whether walking the dog around the block at home in New Jersey, making an entrance at a Manhattan fashion party, or styling John Galliano-era Dior for an Instagram video, Cassanova turns heads.

The glamour, at least, makes for good conversation; people always want to know more. “Sometimes, you get people who treat you like an attraction or like something to experience rather than someone to get to know,” says the collector and creator. “But then other people want the story, and that's where the meat is; that's where the delicious opportunity for connection is.” Clad in feathered fascinators, skintight stiletto boots, and strands of silk and freshwater pearls—designed by Rolly Robínson, Cassanova’s ex-wife and the co-founder of the jewelry line Isshi—Cassanova is open to the world (and always to the possibility of love).

“So much of what I wear, I think some people view it as armor. But for me, I view it as an invitation to the right people. I'm not trying to keep anyone away as much as I'm just trying to let the right people in.”

While other kids grew up dreaming of becoming movie stars and race-car drivers, Cassanova’s biggest aspiration was to fall in love. “That's all I ever wanted. That was my dream. And I think that clothing has given me the opportunity to do so many times.” That’s evident in the painstakingly detailed custom Barbie doll that usually sits on the mantel—a gift from a lover, designed to look like Cassanova down to the Isshi pearls and flash of nipples above the gown’s cowl neck. The easy repore on-set in Cassanova’s home also speaks to a tight inner circle of collaborators among whom gender and fashion feel like essential sites of ingenuity and self-expression.

Against a Soundcloud soundtrack of Versace runway shows, the conversation flowed from fashion freebies to cherry blossoms to clothing’s capacity to cope with the looming specter of death. Cassanova’s enthusiasm for clothing, for creativity, for getting dressed is infectious. I walked out with a firm conviction that I needed more gowns in my wardrobe. And anemone-esque earrings. And probably a hand-painted fan. Below, get a peek at a collection that includes Chanel couture, fly-girl rhinestones, and a hat rescued from the tracks of the New York City subway.

Style Editor: Camille Freestone / Art Director: Smiley Stevens/ Casting Director: Yasmin Coutinho/ Executive Producer: Marc Duron

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