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Style and substance: Remembering designer Joe Casely-Hayford

LEGACY: Joe Casely-Hayford, left, with his son Charlie

REGARDED AS one of Britain’s fashion design greats and an expert innovator, Joe Casely-Hayford’s clothes have been loved by industry stalwarts, celebrities and the style conscious for generations.

After studying at St Martin’s School of Art and the Tailor and Cutter Academy, Casely-Hayford went on to dress some of the best-know stars of the 80s including The Clash and U2. When Bono appeared on the cover of British Vogue in 1992, the first man to do so, he was dressed in the designer’s eponymous brand, established in London in 1984.

But it wasn’t just celebrities that chose to stand out and look sharp in Casely-Hayford’s designs, prime ministers wore them too, Princess Diana was among those who admired his collections and a partnership with Topshop helped bring his work to new audiences.

Among Casely-Hayford's other career highlights include a three-year stint as creative director of bespoke Savile Row menswear tailor Gieves and Hawkes and being recognised by royalty for his contributions to the fashion industry in 2007 when he was awarded an OBE.

“He was the first London designer to bring the cultural mix and energy of the East End together with the amazing skills of a Savile Row tailor...We will be remembering him as a great creative forerunner of the new generation of multi-cultural designers, and the founding father of a wonderful, clever and intellectual British-Ghanaian family,” fashion critic Sarah Mower told Vogue.

Casely-Hayford’s achievements in the industry and his passion for style and substance inspired his children to follow in his fashionable footsteps.

His son Charlie, 32, also a menswear designer, launched the menswear and womenswear label Casely-Hayford in Marylebone with his father 10 years ago.

Alice, 29, now digital editor at British Vogue, formerly an editor at Refinery29, has built a career in fashion publishing.

In a tribute to Casely-Hayford on the British Vogue website, Edward Enninful, the publication’s editor, said: “Joe was a talented pioneer, filled with integrity, and the first of his kind: a black designer who represented London on the world stage.”

Casely-Hayford paved the way for black creatives in his industry and demonstrated that they could design and fashion their own paths, whatever they wanted them to be. Afforded the utmost respect from his peers, he will be remembered for his expert sophistication and ability to transcend generations with design.

Casely-Hayford is survived by his wife, Maria, who he first met while studying at St Martins, and his two children, Charlie, and Alice, his sister Margaret, chair of the board at Shakespeare’s Globe, and brothers Peter, founder and former co-owner of film company Twenty Twenty and Gus, the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art.

Margaret said: “Gentleman Joe was amazing in so many ways not least the way he continued to work without fuss right up until it became completely impossible to do so. He was a wonderful person. He’ll be so missed.”

She added: “We are also really pleased that Joe has been able to pass the baton of the business onto his son Charlie, and that his daughter Alice also demonstrates the talent. Joe died young but blazed a trail.”

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