Call her the kiddie couturier.
At just 11 years old, California’s Cecilia Cassini designs her own namesake line of girls’ clothing that is carried by Fred Segal and a handful of kids’ boutiques in Southern California. Since launching the brand in late 2009, she has sold more than 500 of her one-of-a-kind pieces, which range from embellished T-shirts to mini dresses, priced between $30 and $140. Cassini also creates custom grown-up versions of her glitzy, girly looks for celebrity fans including Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne and Heidi Klum.
Her wunderkind status, combined with her precocious personality, have made her a regular on the talk-show circuit, appearing on such shows as “Today” and MTV’s “The Seven.” And she has become a familiar face at New York Fashion Week, where she has mingled with designers Betsey Johnson and Diane Von Furstenberg. Now the sixth grader is set to star in her own reality TV series, the details of which are still under wraps.
For Cassini — who personally sews all her orders in between cramming for math quizzes and assembling science fair projects — designing for her peers comes naturally. “Sometimes adults create clothes for kids thinking that we don’t have sophisticated tastes yet,” she said. “So what I’m bringing are very modern, high-fashion looks for kids from a kid’s eye. I know what girls my age want to wear.”
When it comes to shoes, Cassini’s tastes are equally sophisticated. Her closet is filled with trendy looks from designer brands including Tory Burch, Patricia Blanchet and even Christian Louboutin. “I love shoes. [They’re] the ultimate accessory for making your outfit even more fab,” she gushed, adding that she hopes to one day extend her namesake brand into footwear. Still, while she can fit into women’s sizes, she is careful to choose age-appropriate styles. “I still want to look like a young girl,” she said.
Here, the pint-sized fashion plate gives Footwear News a peek inside her stylish closet.
Pairs owned: “I wish I owned 300, but I’d say about 15, not including flip-flops and tennis shoes.”
Favorite brands: Havaianas, Irregular Choice, Patricia Blanchet, Tory Burch, Ugg
Go-to shoe style: “Flats in [solid colors such as] black, pink and gold. They go with everything, from dresses to jeans.”
Favorite pair: “My Patricia Blanchet royal-blue suede booties that have a glittered heel and rhinestone fringe in the front. I bought them with a gift card at Galeries Lafayette when visiting my grandparents in Paris in December. They are absolutely amazing. Now I design all my dresses just so they will go with these booties.”
Biggest mistake: “I really wanted a pair of beige quilted ballet flats with black trim because they looked like the Chanel ones. But once I wore them I realized they looked like really bad copies. I’ll have to wait to get the real ones.”
Most comfortable pair: Tory Burch ballet flats. “I can wear them all day and my feet never get tired or sore. They feel like soft slippers.”
Best hand-me-down: “A pair of vintage Christian Dior pumps that belonged to my great-grandmother.”
Cold-weather staple: Ugg boots. “I especially loved this year’s [styles] with the fur on the outside. They’re cozy, super comfy and they never go out of style.”
Most coveted pair: “Pink satin bow Christian Louboutins that someone gave me. I am dreaming of the day when they finally fit me and my parents will let me wear them.”
Trend you’re loving right now: “I love booties. They’re not too grown-up looking, and the heel is just high enough that I feel like I am wearing a high heel, but still look appropriate for [my age].”
Trend you wish would go away: Combat boots. “They look too punk and not very classy or feminine. There are so many other fabulous styles young girls should be wearing.”
Biggest trend at school: “Right now, everyone is wearing Converse sneakers. I have nothing against Converse, but they’re just not my style. They’re not girly enough, and [I find them] kind of heavy and clunky.”
Favorite shops: “I actually love to shop online because I can just type in a search for whatever I’m looking for. I also like to browse the big selection at department stores like Barneys, Nordstrom and Galeries Lafayette [in Paris].”
Designer role models: “My fashion idol is Coco Chanel because her ideas and designs are timeless. You can wear any of her original creations today and still be perfectly in fashion. I also adore Karl Lagerfeld because he is really carrying on the tradition of Coco, but adding his special flare. Everything he touches turns into something magical. Betsey Johnson is amazing, too. She has this fun, fearless style that I love.”
Celebrity style icons: “Lady Gaga, of course. She’s not afraid to take fashion risks and express herself, and I feel the same way. I also love Jennifer Lopez. Every time I see her, I love what she’s wearing.”
What would a Cecilia Cassini shoe collection look like? “Sparkly, comfy and fabulous.”