With yellow hair a la Lady Gaga in the "Telephone" music video and bejeweled red robes, Matt Kasin looks more like he belongs on a runway than in a college classroom. But the 21-year-old attends Columbia College Chicago where he studies film; directing specifically.
While his courses may be in film, Kasin refuses to pick between his two loves: film and fashion. He operates under the alias of The Gaudy God, and in addition to documenting his daily looks on his blog, he designs statement pieces and works as a personal stylist. As a fashion entrepreneur, his brand, like his closet, is ever-expanding.
In 2008, Kasin decided to start taking a photo every day of what he wore and post on it his Gaudy God blog. For the full first year, he never repeated an outfit. In the second year, he says it started to feel like a chore; 2010 marks his third year and he says he's finding a renewed value in the personal aspect of it. "It's like a photo diary," he says, "like I can look back and say, 'That's what I was feeling that day.' My clothes tell the mood."
Of course with more than 800 days to choose from, Kasin regrets some of his past looks. "At the end of the year, I'll pick the best and the worst and I'll post those," he says. "There's at least five or ten that I'm appalled at. But, I was happy when I wore it that day and I wouldn't change it at all."
Kasin's blog testifies to his commitment to fashion, but now he's bringing his style to a wider audience through his designs. This began with his recent collection of one-of-a kind HOODZ. For this design, he says, "I was inspired by M.I.A. and that whole idea of being a warrior and putting your hood on."
These aren't your average I'm-covering-up-a-bad-hair-day accessories, either -- these make a statement. Some have teeth and others have feathers. They are all reversible in fabrics Kasin calls "crazy" and "colorful." He says, "They'd be good if you went to Lollapalooza or some outdoor festival." He adds one of his HOODZ plus a tank, some short shorts, and some war paint, "that's the look."
Kasin has been selling his HOODZ at shows around Chicago, but he plans to set up an online Etsy store soon to reach a larger audience. And now with the recent release of his limited edition TANKZ, Kasin has you covered from head to toe -- well, sort of -- if you don't wear pants as Kasin advises. He says, "They're all size large so they can be a dress."
The images on the TANKZ are taken straight from Kasin's personal style icons, his parents. He produced 30 TANKZ with three different photos of his mom from the '70s and the '80s. "The one I'm wearing right now is my mom and my dad on their wedding dress rehearsal day and my mom is giving my dad the middle finger in the photo," he says. "Her best friend is there and everyone else in the photo is drunk. It's a hot mess photo but I love it."
The nostalgia feel of the TANKZ collection is appropriate for Kasin. He describes his personal style as "a Golden Girl in the '80s" and says he wears a lot of blazers. He is currently building up his own collection of vintage, which he may sell or selfishly keep for a bit. A recent addition is a lavender leotard that he describes as part crushed velvet and part holographic. He says, "It's like if M.I.A and Lady Gaga had a baby, that's their leotard." He already owns more than 20 pairs of sunglasses. His Lady Gaga inspiration can be found in his favorite pair of shades: vintage Stussy round frames with springs that he purchased from Chicago vintage store, KOKOROKOKO.
Kasin currently runs A.M. Styling with a friend and hopes to take on more work as a stylist in photo shoots and movies. He charges for his services, which include helping people go through their closet and making outfits. He then takes them shopping. "I like that hands-on styling where I get to go and see what you have," Kasin says. "I'm not mean like What Not to Wear."
Ideally, his career will combine fashion and film. His idea for this fusion comes from his own personal inspiration, Veronica from the movie, "Heathers". "I really love the way she dresses and I identify with her, so if you identify with a character and would like to have those clothes, I would design for the movie and then you could buy them."
After three years working retail, Kasin just put in his two weeks notice. He says he wasn't being creative enough, but from HOODZ and TANKZ to personal styling tips, it seems his creativity is leading to some innovative work of his own choosing. He offers fashion from all angles, which works in his favor. "I feel like I'm all over the place, but it's all under me and I have a style, an aesthetic and if you like that, then I have all these things to offer to you."
Clothes to Free, appearing Thursdays, is a weekly fashion-on-a-budget column by Money College blogger Alysse Dalessandro. Send Alysse column tips at MoneyCollege@walletpop.com.
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