Cassie Dean of Lowell, a fashion student at The Savannah College of Art and Design last spring, had a piece from her collection featured in a prominent fashion magazine.
We just had to reach out.
Grand Rapids Magazine: Can you tell us where you went to high school and what year you graduated?
Cassie Dean: I went to Lowell High School, just a little outside of Grand Rapids. I graduated in 2018.
GR MAG: Anything about growing up in Grand Rapids that inspired you to take this career path?
CD: Grand Rapids inspired the artist in me more than I even knew before moving to SCAD. Growing up, I went into the city more than I probably spent in Lowell because of the art and energy I felt there. Going there was my little escape. I would go to ArtPrize every year multiple times, I remember one year I went in the morning with my friends and then came back the same day at night with my Nana. Grand Rapids will always have a big piece of my heart because it is what started me as an artist.
GR Mag: What made you choose SCAD?
CD: I chose SCAD for various reasons, but the main being the university teaches you the from the ground up how to be a designer and how to give students the highest advantages for a successful career. I grew up in sports, but I knew that being an artist was where I belonged, and I am so grateful I found SCAD. I truly blossomed as an artist and fashion designer because of SCAD and the opportunities provided to me over these last four years. Not to mention, having the opportunity to go to school in Savannah, one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities I have been to.
GR Mag: What have your major successes been so far?
CD: My most exciting moment at SCAD was seeing my collection featured by Vogue after the SCAD fashion show. I genuinely could not believe it, and it made me cry.
Having my senior collection accepted to that runway show was another huge moment for me – it is something all of the fashion students think about from freshman year to senior year. It is always in the back of our minds. I called my mom, and all I could say was, “I made it!”
I think another highlight for me was just meeting my best friends. I have met some of the most brilliant and kind people through SCAD that I could not have made it through this year without. They are my family forever.
I have had a lot of other opportunities through my years at SCAD that were big successes for me, like meeting designers Prabal Gurung and Sam Edelman; being on a podcast with and showing my work to Emily Smith, the creative director of Lafayette 148; and so many other things.
GR Mag: I’ve noticed an element of fantasy in your work. What inspires these whimsical creations?
CD: I love working in a world of fantasy. I always go into my projects thinking, “Am I going to enjoy making this long term? Am I going to have fun?” I also try to balance saying something meaningful with my work while still keeping it within the realm of fashion. With my senior collection, I always knew I wanted to say something about the beauty standard and social media because I see it getting worse and how many young people it troubles, but I wanted to keep it within my personal aesthetic and make it something fascinating to look at.
GR Mag: Do ethics play a role in fashion for you?
CD: I want to push more inclusive and sustainable ways to create. I have always tried to think, “Is this something that is going to aid the world in some way?” I believe the future of fashion is exploring new materials and creating for longevity, which I am 100% on board with.
GR Mag: What’s your creative process? Do you sketch, use computers…how does a Cassie Dean original come into being?
CD: Physical, physical, physical! My creative process always starts with a big sketchbook and collecting. My senior professor at SCAD, Gemma Marsh, encouraged me to embrace my sketch-booking and concepting, even though to an outsider, they may look like a chaotic mix of stuff floating around in my brain. I love to collage magazines, newspapers, fabrics, knit swatches, and various knick-knacks. You never know what one small idea will lead to. After having 200+ pages of collages, drawings, drapes, swatches, research, etc. I then go into my computer to narrow down with my mood board, muse, lineup, etc.
GR Mag: Anything else you’d like to share? An anecdote, memory, or someone to thank?
CD: I want to thank my best friends for going through senior year with me. There is no way I could have made it through this without them. My extremely brilliant senior professors, Gemma Marsh and Kori Smith are the best in the game! My Nana for showing me how to work a sewing machine when I was about five and letting my creativity run wild, making purses from her quilting fabric scraps. Mostly, my parents have given me more than I could ever express; they are probably the best people in the world. And finally, thank you for letting me share my thoughts and work; it means the world to me!