Designer Joe Casely-Hayford loses cancer fight
Joe Casely-Hayford has died at the age of 62 following a three-year battle with cancer. A British tailoring virtuoso, he was one of very few black designers to become globally known in the 1980s and was also one of the nicest people in fashion.
Casely-Hayford has been best known in recent years as part of a design duo with his son Charlie, their eponymous label having launched in 2009. They opened their first men’s and womenswear standalone store on London’s Chiltern Street just a few months ago.
But before that he was one of the brightest of the new wave of young British designers emerging in London during the 80s, skilfully treading a line between traditional tailoring and a newer, less conventional look that was influenced by street style and punk.
He launched his first label, simply called Joe Casely-Hayford, in 1984, the same year I joined a now forgotten trade magazine called Fashion Weekly. And despite the air of uber cool that he exuded, was always happy to talk to a harassed trade journalist even while the global glossies were knocking at his door.
He was one of the young creatives making a big impact at the time. They included John Galliano, John Richmond and Maria Cornejo, BodyMap’s Stevie Stewart and David Holah and a raft of other now-less-well-known names who had their moment in the spotlight. But Casely-Hayford was always the most approachable among them.
His suits were known for their superlative cuts that emphasised and flattered the figure and managed to be both understated and eye-catching at the same time.
Friend of the family Mark C. O'Flaherty said on Thursday: “The construction of a Casely-Hayford suit is a feat of engineering – from the prominent chest with special internal darting to the prominent sleeve head roll, shaped sleeve with high underarm point and natural sloping shoulders.”
His ability to blend the cutting edge with the commercial came both from his training on Savile Row and at St Martins School of Art, as well as his own unfailing eye. It made him a favourite of fashion editors, of rock royalty from Lou Reed to The Clash and Bono, as well as his customers.
But he didn’t work alone and fashion was something of a Casely-Hayford family business. He met his future wife Maria Stevens, while they were both studying at St. Martins and they worked closely together, both in their own business and while he was creative director at Gieves and Hawkes from 2005 to 2008.
Their two children, Charlie and Alice followed in their fashion footsteps. As mentioned, Joe launched his new tailoring-to-streetwear Casely-Hayford label with Charlie in 2009, while Alice went into journalism and is currently editor of vogue.co.uk.
O'Flaherty added: “With the passing of Joe Casely-Hayford at 62, the British fashion industry has lost one of its brightest and most beloved stars. Casely-Hayford’s influence on design was phenomenal. For four decades he shaped an aesthetic that broke boundaries.”
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