Detail of Hermès foulard and vintage brooch pinned onto his classic Barbour Beaufort jacket Hands down (pun very much intended) the coolest gloves in the world. From the Givenchy FW10 collection. Cassius wears a sweater with a neckline that he studded himself. "I bled a lot." Alexis Mabille shirt w/ Black Leather bow in white Opening Ceremony Puffy Blazer in grey Markus Lupfer beaded fern sweater in grey Christopher Kane scarf in mystic Kitsune cable sweater in white It looks like Cassius is as much of a Francophile as we are... Kitsune Sold Button Jacket in dark navy Opening Ceremony m1 Classic Boot in exotic skin Ring it up: Camel Ring by Gerard Tully (available in stores only)... ...Snail Ring, also by Gerard Tully (exclusively sold in stores). Yves Salomon scarf in black Deyrolle pour Opening Ceremony scarf in black Saint James Naval II Striped boat neck tee in white/blue Alexis Mabille satin duchesse brooch in grey Yves Kone backpack in black Melinda Gloss wool checked coat in grey
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Kanye's Stylist Cassius Clay and His Holiday Picks

BY Sofia Cavallo | Wed. December 31, 1969 | 7:00 AM | A La Mode
It was just another day of scouring the racks at Barneys for my friend, 19-year-old Yale sophomore Cassius Clay, when someone tapped him on the shoulder and complimented him for the way he was dressed. The man was Kanye West, and after a short conversation and an exchange of e-mail addresses, an unlikely relationship developed between the rapper and the cerebral Art History major. Within weeks, the self-described "babe of the woods" of southern New Hampshire who grew up and went to school near Boston had taken a leave of absence from his alma mater to become the rapper's personal stylist and creative consultant.

I caught up with Cassius right here at OC, where he is a familiar face, before he returns to the world of academia that he realized he dearly missed. Read on for Cassius' first-ever interview and see what his heart desires from the store and OC online!

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.


*Ed. Note: Disambiguation--the American boxer Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) was named after this Cassius Clay's ancestor, who was a 19th century abolitionist and politician.
Updated: 12/27/10 at 9:40pm.

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