Tucked below the bustle of street-level Manhattan, the underground entrance of fashion stylist Shea Daspin’s East Village studio holds the allure of an urban cavern. The place is an aesthetic adventure; each wall is clad with everything from street paintings, to ‘90s memorabilia, bobble heads, and pinatas. Take a bathroom break, and admire taped-to-the-wall Jazz cup furnishings and toilet-side action figures. If it weren’t for the work tables and clothing racks, the studio could be a Chelsea pop-up exhibition.
Daspin doesn’t need to be introduced as the curator of this playhouse. She just looks the part. Adjusting the volume of the early 2000’s playlist on her laptop, her bouncing hot pink hair complements her blue plaid dress in what forms a vibrant buzz about her. Daspin welcomes us with enthusiasm and warmth, and immediately compliments our team of twenty-something “nuggets” on our maturity. “I’m 27, but I feel like I’m seven,” she laughs. Daspin is apt to dish out such one-liners for a laugh, but this connection to her youth is far from hyperbolic.
Daspin’s style hums with an air of playful curiosity reminiscent of the ages of make-believe. “I always like to incorporate colors and sparkles in any way,” she says, “also patterns.” Daspin accredits the Harajuku street style of Japan to a great deal of her inspiration since discovering Fruits Magazine at age thirteen. However, what inspires Daspin most is the role that clothing plays in human psychology.
Shea emphasizes that fashion "isn’t just an aesthetic choice,” but rather an “inner need.” “There’s always going to be colors. There’s always going to be something quirky,” says Daspin. “But it’s always going to be inspired by my human experience. In the midst of setting up for her photo shoot, Daspin offers to entertain us: “Do you guys want to hear a story?”
Daspin brings us back to a memory from second grade when she and her mother went on a shopping spree at the Limited Too. She recounts with unadulterated glee her list of purchases: a Spice Girls lollipop, bell bottom jeans, ying-yang and smiley face iron-on patches, and a yellow, fuzzy sweater. “I walked into the classroom [the following Monday] feeling like a million bucks,” she says.
Expecting to be greeted with compliments, Daspin was instead greeted by a classmate’s pointing finger. “Look, it’s Big Bird!” he shouted. “I was so mortified,” says Daspin, “It was one of those moments you don’t forget.” Fumbling for a recovery, Daspin brushed off the comment.
"In my brain, I was like, 'Whatever, he doesn’t know anything. One day I'm going to be Miss America or a supermodel and he's going to wish he never said that."
It wasn’t until recently, though, that Daspin discovered the value of this memory. While delivering a speech on the concept of sparkles in fashion, Daspin began to psychoanalyze why she loves the material so much. Daspin explained the very performative history that the material has in its rodeo and country music roots, and found a tie back to her fuzzy yellow Monday.
“It's strange to think that my way to cope was to say that I was going to be Miss America or a supermodel, when both of these things are highly performative," says Daspin. Daspin says that she realized how much her work in fashion has emulated this mindset of rebellion against convention. "[“Sparkles] are a way to always be on the outside, but in a way that's celebrated... [Fashion] was a way to inspire my individuality as opposed to making it something that was devastating."
Already boasting such clientele as Nylon, Cosmopolitan, Refinery 29, and Shape in her nine years as a New York-based stylist, Daspin still sees her future in sparkle. She will soon be expanding to Los Angeles, and hopes to eventually offer her own digital content for all genders and ages. Above all, she wants this content to be shoppable. "I love bringing fashion to other people and having them be... excited about what they're wearing," says Daspin, "and I want to manifest that physically into something they can purchase." With her avant-garde style, and always a bit of iridescence, Daspin dreams to inspire. "That's especially why I love putting people in flashy clothing," says Daspin, "Because it brings me joy, and I want it to being [clients] as much joy as it brings me."
You can review Shea's portfolio at sheadaspin.squarespace.com
Article written by: Emma Carey, Contributor at SOUL