It's Always Drama With Jeauni Cassanova

It's Always Drama With Jeauni Cassanova

Story by Andrew Nguyen / Photography by Claudio Robles / Styling by Dominick Barcelona / Hair by Sergio Estrada / Makeup by Jake Dupont
Dec 06, 2023

In 2018, a pair of Dior boots changed the course of Jeauni Cassanova’s life. Five years later, the vintage fashion collector has over 100,000 followers on Instagram, where she casually gets dressed in rare Vivienne Westwood, Maison Margiela and Dior.

“I got like those Dior boots with the oblique pattern on them, and then I found a matching jacket,” Cassanova tells PAPER over video chat in a feathered straw hat and vintage Dior and Westwood (and Hanes sweatpants — which is so real, but more on that later). “I was like, ‘I want to be a Dior girl.’ I went crazy looking after that, and the collection just kept growing.”

Now her collection fills every nook and cranny of her two-and-a-half story apartment in New Jersey where she films her viral reels. Although Cassanova has recently found fame on social media, she's felt from a young age that she was meant to be a star. Where she goes from here — the possibilities seem endless for her. But she knows she'll always live a life of fashion, glamor and drama.

As she sipped tea in her sunny New Jersey home, PAPER talked to Cassanova about finding your personal style, staying true to yourself, how to make sense of neverending fashion trends and manifesting your wildest dreams.

Bra: Ben Doctor, Skirt: DSquared, Shawl: Hector Ducoux, Shoes: Vintage Christian Dior by John Galliano, Belt: Stylist’s own, Earrings and necklace: Isshi, Bracelets: Alexis Bittar

How did you find your personal style?

I recently had a revelation that my love for beauty and glamor comes from the first and earliest memory I have of watching The Wizard of Oz. I was a big theater kid and was like, “I just want to be a star!” The red ruby slippers and Glinda the Good Witch descending in her bubble and then popping out in a beautiful huge pink gown with a crystal scepter and crown — that was the root of everything for me in terms of fashion and my creative journey. It all starts with my love for old cinema. I was always watching old movies. Marilyn Monroe was my beacon, and I don't remember my life without her presence. Naturally over the years, that became more expansive. It evolved outside of cinema and became a love for opera. Then from there, it became fashion. So in high school when Gaga stepped out on the scene, it was a marriage of it all — high fashion and the drama of theater and opera. That was the moment when I knew that’s the world I want to be in.

What is it that you love about the opera?

Everything! I love the music. I love the costumes. I love the makeup. I love the environment. I love it. The opera used to be a place that you went to just to be seen. They never turned the lights down. It was about the way you showed up. That makes me love it even more because it's just another element of drama — this grandeur experience that's not just about what's happening on the stage. It’s the audience and the physicality of the environment, as well.

Did your background influence you at all?

I grew up in Union City, and it's predominantly Latine people. I'm Colombian, so being around people of my culture showed me the commitment to being fly and the girl. My stepmom, for example, was always decked out in head-to-toe designer and such a fly girl.

Top: Lucky Jewel, Vest: Jean Paul Gaultier, Skirt and gloves: Maison Margiela, Shoes: Christian Lacroix, Hat: Danielle Frankel, Anklet: Isshi

Have you worked in fashion before?

In my twenties, I had a fashion blog but stopped doing that, and I ended up in healthcare marketing for a few years. Isn't that funny? In the midst of that, I was making more money so I started collecting more. It just kept growing and growing. Then last year when I was in Paris, I was by myself and bored and decided to record myself putting an outfit together. People responded really well to it. I was like, “Maybe it's time to open up the archives and show everyone what's happening.”

How do you go about putting together an outfit?

I don't think about it consciously. I'm always tapped into the things that I love subconsciously, so when I buy clothing or when I'm getting dressed, my brain references the things I love. Even in my videos, I put the outfit together first and then decide what it could be or what people could think it might look like, like "Dior meets Marie Antoinette," but that wasn't necessarily my intention at first.

Do you pay attention to other elements like silhouette and colors?

The biggest thing for me is colors and textures and the silhouette itself. I love a tight waist so there's always going to be some sort of cinched element, or there's always going to be big shoulders with a larger bottom. My brain just knows what colors and fabrications to put together. I truly know my style through and through.

Dress: Bad Bitch Tong Tong, Shoes: Balenciaga, Earrings: Alexis Bittar

What do you think about trends?

I'm not really a trend person. There are some trends I like — and maybe I'll buy into them — but I always make the trend fit me. I don't try to change myself to fit the trends. If it's like office wear, which is really popular right now, I'm going to turn it into a Baroque Rococo fantasy somehow.

I feel like you can kind of tell when a trend is wearing someone and not vice-versa.

When some people wear trends, it only looks like a trend. There's no interpretation of it. Your voice has to be the most important voice when it comes to getting dressed. You have to forget everything else. When you're starting to find your style, tune everything out. Find the things you love, like my love for opera, silks, large silhouettes and drama. That all will translate into clothing. If I allow myself to get caught up in what's happening in the world in terms of trends, it's very easy to get lost.

When you just have genuine interests and influences, it subconsciously affects how you dress.

That's exactly it. That's the only time that the process becomes externally influenced. I'll also picture myself in environments and what that looks like. If I'm going to the opera, what does that look like when I'm sitting in that room with all the red velvet? What are the colors that complement that well? How do I feel in the clothing there? All of that is so important.

Dress: Maison Margiela, Shawl: Maison Margiela, Earrings and ring: Isshi, Bow, ankle bow and shoes: Talent's own

Are you super careful with everything in your archive?

Clothing should be lived in. I'll end up on the dance floor even if I’m in Dior boots. The life that I imagined for my clothing is at some fabulous party where something crazy happens that gives the pieces a story. But I don't want to be at home and spill my literal tea. That's not the story we're looking for.

Are you always in a look?

People probably have an idea that this happens every day, but that’s not reality, because you'll find me at home in sweatpants and a Sailor Moon sweatshirt. The other part of my style is the little boy that is still living inside of me that needs to have moments of rest and relaxation and comfort. Also I'm such a mess. I'll stain everything so I can't wear too much designer at home. I actually went to the thrift store recently and got a bunch of cute at-home clothing like knits and khaki pants. I swear it’s all really cute, but it's definitely not what you're getting on Instagram.

Do you think you’ve found your signature style?

Even when you have a signature style, it's always evolving. Maybe a few years ago, I would’ve described my look as more showgirl. Big feathers! Then the showgirl leaned into more of an opera star with more gowns. Everything started to extend and get bigger. And then I even think all of a sudden it became “opera diva falls into a swamp.” I'm very obsessed with if an opera star fell into a swamp in the year 1900, and then 100 years later, they found her and all of her clothing and pulled it out. Now a new opera star is wearing it but didn't do anything to it or try to fix it. They just left it in shambles. I'm just obsessed with this idea of things that were once considered beautiful that have grown over and been taken by the forces of nature. Now I incorporate more straw hats and raggedy torn knits. But there are still always elements that stay constant throughout it all from the showgirl and the opera diva. I'm always geared towards silks, and the silhouettes are always similar — just the details change. The essence of what beauty looks like to me is still there. It’s unshakeable no matter which direction I go.

What is your wildest dream?

I would ideally like an exclusive contract with the house of Maison Margiela, to work alongside [John] Galliano in any capacity. And on an even bigger scale, since I was a theater kid, I would love to go back to doing theater and parlay into acting fully. That is the ultimate fantasy.

Dress: Pipenco, Skirt: Ren Haixi, Shoes: Y/Project, Bracelet: Alexis Bittar, Other jewelry: Isshi

Photography: Claudio Robles
Art direction: Tomas Meersohn
Styling: Dominick Barcelona
Hair: Sergio Estrada
Make-up: Jake Dupont

Styling assist: Marcello Flutie, Kaia Carioli
Production assist: Yeraldi Saenz

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Managing editor: Matt Wille
Story: Andrew Nguyen
Andrew Tess