My name is Curtis Cassell and I’m an artist and designer based in Chicago, Illinois. This is home now, but my journey started in Ohio, where my childhood was spent in antique stores with my grandmother. Whenever I wasn’t in theater, watching old films, or studying art in school, I immersed myself in the real-world history of creative commercial expression. I couldn’t learn enough, so I moved to the big city in 2007 to pursue graphic design at Columbia College. Later on, I transferred to The Illinois Institute of Art and earned a BFA in interior design, while also studying architecture and furniture. In college, I grew frustrated by just how many design disciplines are confined to the computer. I craved physical expression! I would come home every day inspired to paint, draw, sculpt; anything to express myself with my own two hands. My heart was in fashion, and my design training slowly morphed into wearable sculpture.
I began to teach myself sewing, but I could only hand stitch. I had two friends who would bring over their machines, and as I cut, draped, and pinned, they would help me stitch my visions into reality.
My seamstress friends have both moved, so in the past year I’ve been borrowing another friend’s machines and learning how to do all the mechanical sewing on my own. I’ve made costumes for film, photography, theater, and drag queens. My friend Kim Chi made it on to the 8th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and commissioned a dress for her entrance look on the first episode! My first costume on TV!!
During this time my work evolved from purely concept-driven pieces to construction conscious clothing. I’ve been sewing everything myself, learning by doing, and obsessing over stitch study and the art of tailoring to create machine washable clothing. I’m currently in the middle of several projects, but it’s time for me to return the sewing machines to their rightful owner. Here’s where I need your help!
After a wild journey to find myself as an artist, I now have the experience to know my true passion. I’m here to be a full-time costume and fashion designer. I’m asking for your help to acquire the proper equipment to take my designs to the next level. With your donations I will be purchasing a sewing machine and serger; male, female, and plus-size female dress forms; proper rulers and grids, and an ironing board. These supplies add up fast, so I need your help to go from Curtis Cassell to THE Curtis Cassell! Any extra money raised will go towards yards and yards of beautiful fabrics.
TOP 10 donors will have a gown dedicated to and named after them.
TOP 5 donors will receive a monogrammed pocket square or scarf!
I cannot thank you enough for showing your support with a donation! It truly makes all the difference, and I am sincerely humbled by your generosity and belief in me. The love I get from my friends and family shows in every garment I make, and I am eternally grateful for anything you can offer.
- Clayton Rotuno
- J P
- Sarah Franseen
- David Rivera