LONDON, United Kingdom — Joe Casely-Hayford, the British menswear designer who bent the conventions of bespoke tailoring to incorporate elements of street style, and whose label was donned by rappers and prime ministers alike, died Wednesday. He was 62.
Casely-Hayford had been battling cancer for three years, according to his publicist.
A vanguard of modern British style, the designer began his four-decade career in the 1980s among the likes of John Galliano and John Richmond. He founded his namesake label in 1984, five years after graduating from Central Saint Martins, and quickly garnered international acclaim for his bespoke tailoring with a modern twist: formal jackets made from World War II parachutes and wingtips that featured broguing scattered across the shoe.
“We comfortably sit between English sartorial style and British anarchy,” Casely-Hayford told The New York Times in 2014, describing the signature of his most recent namesake line he founded with his son, Charlie.
When Bono appeared on the cover of British Vogue in 1992, he wore Casely-Hayford, a favourite among rockstars (the designer created stage costumes for The Clash and U2). He was the first designer to collaborate with Topshop in 1993, and in the 2000s, he served as the creative director of Savile Row tailor Gieves and Hawkes, during the tenure of which he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the fashion industry.
Casely-Hayford was born in 1956 to one of the most prominent black families in Britain. His grandfather was J. E. Casely-Hayford, a lawyer, statesman and author.
“I was always classified as a ‘black designer,’ so I had to struggle to work against that,” he said in a 2011 interview with The Fader. “There weren’t African elements in my clothes until later in my career, even though people always expected them. I wanted to be seen as ‘the designer.’”
In 2009, Casely-Hayford founded a new streetwear-inspired namesake label with his son, Charlie. The duo opened their first storefront on London’s Chiltern Street last year. He is survived by his two children, Charlie and Alice, and wife, Maria Stevens.