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Carri ‘Cassette Playa’ Munden is at the forefront of forward-thinking fashion; whether styling M.I.A, being nominated for Best Menswear Designer or the Year or collabing with Nike, Cassette really ain’t Playing! Having a Fash On issue without her on the cover would be beyond wrong… photography by James Pearson-Howes styling and artwork by Cassette Playa make up by Sareta Gabriel

Carri Munden, 28, has been a force in the field of fashion over the last four years. After studying design at University of Westminster, her ’04 graduation show caught the attention of style maverick Nicola Formichetti, who began stocking Carri’s clothing line, Cassette Playa at his Tokyo store. After teaming up as a stylist for her friend Maya ‘M.I.A.’ Arulpragasam, who she met while working in a west London clothing shop, the London based designer went from strength to strength. The Carri styled Galang video was her first introduction to a more mainstream audience, who lapped up the overload of sensory styles. Often heralded as one of the creators of Nu-Rave, there was actually a lot more depth and thought to Cassette Playa than many initially gave credit for. The luxury label has been worn by everyone from Jammer to the Klaxons, while Carri has been named Designer of the Year 2008 by Rolling Stone, and was nominated for Menswear Designer of the Year, 2007 (alongside Alexander McQueen no less). She’s styled Patrick Wolf, done videos with Ruff Sqwad, persuaded JME to strut his stuff down the catwalk, been featured numerous times in NME, i-D, SuperSuper, Hypebeast, Kanye’s blog and Dazed & Confused, and last year did the look-book for Billionaire Boys Club. Her incredible clothing started out being inspired by the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, packets of cheesy Wotsits and Aztek art, while her forthcoming AW09 has been made with British tribal identity in mind. The Virgo, science-loving east London resident most recently teamed with Nike to create Nike X Cassette Playa (the Blazers are A MURDER!), which involved creating both clothing and pop-up stores in both London and New York. Watch out for collab’s with Chromeo, the Teriyaki Boy’s Verbal and art and film projects with the photographer Shawn Mortensen coming soon.

Cassette Playa is a tour de force in the world of cutting-edge creativity and an inspiration to anyone willing to stand out from the crowd. We sit down with Munden to talk songs, style and getting into the right headspace…

It’s been a long time – what have you been up to?
We just launched our CP X Nike Blazers with two parties; Toxicrites 1 + 2 in London and New York. The London launch party featured Tempa T, AI Bassline, Blaise Belleville and Juan20jazzfunkgreats – we built our own temple for the night! Then in New York we did a party in the Nike Mercer Street space with Nick Catchdubs (Fool Gold Records), Kesh and Kingdom. Our Nike collaboration follows on from the Nike split computer game I designed / art directed for Nike last summer. The Blazers sold out globally. We also launched a CP x Nike swoosh face tee which was exclusive to New York. The SS09 (Spring/Summer) Colours DN’T Run are in stores now.

What inspired that collection?
The UK is built from a warrior race, of straight talking, drinkers and fighters and so it explores what it means to be British in 2009. From megalithic Britain; pagan knowledge and druid 
rituals, to the new tribes; football firms and gang culture; council estates, Essex mansions, and organised violence. This season, Cassette Playa reins rite true immortal.

Who wears Cassette Playa? 
Cassette Playa is for hard boys battling real and virtual worlds. Warriors can be nerds too (laughs). It’s not even about wearing colour or print head-to-toe, but being true to your own style (although that is warrior shit). It’s like war paint slash tribal colours. Cassette Playa is for boys – and girls – that aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in.

What’s the set-up with the label – is it you and you alone, or does anyone else work on design etc?
I’m lucky to have an amazing Cassette Playa family of friends and collaborators. I have a PR (Mandi Lennard) , a studio/production manager , a rotating tribe of interns, design and studio assistants, and from this season Craig Ford (Billionaire Boys Club/Bape) will be handling my global sales. Everyone has an input but the only other person who works closely on the design with me is Tom – I call him my second brain (laughs). We have been working together for five seasons now.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
I’m working on AW09/10 to launch this Paris fashion week, and a diffusion line (CP ++) to launch at Magic in Las Vegas on 17 February. There’s also lots of collabs and projects (M.I.A., Chromeo, Rockers NYC / Phenomenon, Tokyo) and our Nike collaboration continues with more CP X Nike collab pieces dropping at the end of this year. I shot the lookbook for Billionaire Boys Club last season and I hope to work with them again.

What about outside of design?
I still work as stylist and art director so more of that. And I have some 
photography – this month I’m working with the legendary Shawn Mortenson – and film projects coming up. Check Dazeddigital.com for our last video. There are a few galleries interested in my work and that’s a direction I’m into.

If you could work on anything/ with anyone, who would it be and why? 
Lil Wayne! Cos he is fearless, prolific and lyrically next level/ psychedelic. 

How do you sit down and design – what inspires you to be able to get creative? Are there certain things Carri needs to create Cassette Playa?
It’s harder and harder to get in that headspace cos obviously I’m also running the business and doing a billion other things too. It’s hard to zone it all out and focus and just be creative. Sometimes I think I need to clone myself (laughs), but till then music is all I need to get me there.

What music are you into right now?
Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak has been on repeat all winter for me, it’s raw and future pop. I had the honour of seeing the Glow In The Dark show three times last year, and I could watch it every night (laughs). Also Burzum and Lil Wayne – on a loop (laughs). New music-wise, Tempa T; his album drops this year and this is (spells it out) h. i. s. t. i. m. e. Late of the Pier’s album is amazing, those boys are deep and Erol Alkan is a Demi-God! Also the Klaxons new album, JME (I love Over Me), Man Like Me (just wait for Ldn Town to drop), Rye-Rye, Sa-Ra, Telepathe, Ladyhawke, A1 Bassline, Animal Collective, MGMT, Esser, Orphan Children, Fuda Guy, Saskilla, These New Puritans, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, Bring Me The Horizon, Danger…

What are you into at the moment, in terms of fashion, parties, blogs, places, and people?
Fashion-wise; Gareth Pugh, Jeremy Scott, Kim Jones for Dunhill and Christopher Kane. Parties? Dude, I’ve been in the cave/studio all winter! But when I have gone out, it’s been FWD>>, Dirty Canvas, Work It, yOyO or Matter. I’m not on the Bungalow ‘Hate’ one (laughs).

What’s the hottest, bestest, greatest piece you ever did make?
I don’t think I’ve made it yet, but I guess that’s what keeps you driven. But Emo Duck has a special place in my heart (see his pagan remix, Bursting From Flames for SS09) + L.S.I still blows my mind cos that was the first time we fucked with digital print, literally.

What models/ stylists/ photographers do you particularly love to work with?
When I shoot or do a show, I usually street cast. I have built an identity for not using models and that inspires me more. When we do a show, it’s like building a gang and when I do a shoot, the boys bring the energy and really make the shoot. I work with the stylist Jason Farrer right now. He’s the editor of Tokion and has worked with everyone from Lil Kim and M.I.A., to Nike and Givenchy. 

What up and coming designers should we keep an eye out for this year?
Hood By Air From NYC and Phenomenon, Tokyo. London-wise, look out for my friends, Charlie, Ain’t London and Trinity, Trinotron. 

Who are your style icons?
Grace Jones, Keith Haring and of course Andre 3000.

Any fashion faux pas committed you’d like to fess up to?
Dude I’m too busy to worry about that, sometimes I’m too busy to brush my hair (laughs). But as long as I’ve got my nails did, I’m cool.

Who the hell is Cassette Playa?
This is my life, it’s 24/7. All I want to do is what I do; travel, meet people who inspire and challenge me, love, create – I’m always thinking of the next level. 

Let’s see what 2012 is saying – bring on the apocalypse!
Finally, what advice would you offer wannabe fashionistas?

Buy Cassette Playa from GoodHood
and Kokan To Zai, London


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