TEXT BY SOPHIA JENNINGS (’16), CREATIVE DIRECTOR
IMAGES BY BEN ROMERO (’16), MANAGING DIRECTOR
Last week Alexandre Daillance (’19) sent a hat to Chris Brown. Earlier this week, he designed one for Travis Scott. Yesterday, he talked to Urban Outfitters. Today, he’s in Usdan drinking a hot chocolate.
Raised in Paris but based in Butts C, Alexandre, professionally known as Millinsky, is the founder and face of NASASEASONS, a designer hat line sold at Colette in Paris and 424 in LA. His baseball caps can be seen among the likes of Theophilus London, Trinidad James and Justine Skye. But if you walked by the young designer in Usdan, you wouldn’t think twice. He’s just a freshman boy eating a cookie on a Saturday morning who laughs when I ask which magazine called him before me. It was Vogue.
Starting his line in 11th grade Biology class, Alexandre claims his career began as hobby. “I didn’t know anything about design or making clothes,” he says. “I was just bored.” When his friend started rapping, Alexandre dressed him and designed his album covers. “I always looked at fashionable people on Tumblr and wanted not to be famous but to have recognition for what I do,” he says. It was then that he started his own Instagram, @Millinsky.
At first, Alexandre used Instagram to promote all of the elements of NASASEASONS, from recording songs to designing hats. Often, his uploads were just photos of his daily life. “By chance I was born in Paris. For Americans I am living their dreams.” Around the same time, Alexandre and his friends began throwing parties in stores near the Louvre, inspiring his first hat, I came to break hearts. “There’s always the same girl in the club who’s there to hook up.” he says. “And everyone the next day is texting her like, ‘oh my god I love you.’ I made the hat for her.”
Though his mother, a former Yves Saint Laurent designer, brought him to runway shows, Alexandre had little interest in high fashion. “I like low-key kind of brands,” he explains, “like Midnight Studios, Gianni Mora, and Homme Boy.” When it comes to dressing himself, Alexandre goes for Acne Studios. “Only black or white. I hate colors.”
The summer before senior year, Alexandre sold 200 hats of his first design. “It was a big success cause it was our first hat,” he says. “But compared to now it was shit.” For the next 6 months, the 17 year old worked on expanding his network. “I wanted a big enough fan base to see if a collection would work or not.”
Alexandre’s strategy was to grow his own fan base by being photographed with other artists. “You pick a little part of their fan base, so your fan base is a little bit of everyone else’s.” A music fanatic, Alexandre lists Kid Cudi, Raury, and Young Thug among his favorite artists. And of course, Travis Scott, whose Rodeo album he deconstructed for me, song by song, marking his favorite lines and transitions.
His first connection was with Virgil Abloh, Kanye West’s Creative Director who Alexandre met at his Paris showrooms. Next was Ian Connor, A$AP Rocky’s protogée who he met through friends, then model Luka Sabbat, who he invited to a New Years party over Instagram. His plan worked. In Paris for fashion week last January, the owner of 424 direct messaged Alexandre inviting him to a show. Later that night they exchanged business cards. Last September, he recieved a "DM" from Theophilius London, inviting him to a listening party at Kanye West’s apartment in Paris. The senior had a history exam the next day and spent 2 hours convincing his parents to let him go.
Launching his first collection this fall, the designer sold over 700 hats in 3 months. One of them with the slogan Almost Famous. “That was referring to all the kids on social media who want to be famous,” he says.
Today, NASA Seasons consists of six people. There’s Hugo Lieber, a UPenn sophomore, Neil Saada, co-founder, Gaston Ardisson aka DJ Edward Newgate, Sven, who Alexandre calls “really weird but my everyday inspiration” and George Khabbaz or “god” who orders the hats and deals with the logistics. “He’s applying to college next year,” Alexandre says. “I wrote him a recommendation letter.”
When I ask where he wants to go next, Alexandre says he just wants to keep making hats. “I think it’s good to be really good at one thing,” he says. “Hats are basic, mine is just cool. If I can continue to be really good at that, I can be famous.” After 2 years as Millinsky, the Parisian hesitates to call himself a designer and prefers to think of himself as a fashion marketer. Hence he’s considering majoring in Psychology. “All the bullshit of fashion,” he says. “I’m not a designer, I just put phrases on hats. I understand what people would like to wear.”
When it came to applying to colleges, Alexandre wanted to go to the US. “But I was so bad at the SAT,” he says. “It was here or Bard. And Bard was too chill.” I can’t help but ask the inevitable question. “How are you doing this from Middletown?” He laughs. “It’s just a side project that I love.” For now, he’s happy to be on campus. “When you’re isolated, you can just look at trees and think, What should I do when I’m in New York?” he says. “So when I actually get to New York I know exactly what I need to do.”
And do you tell your contacts that you’re at college in Connecticut? He laughs again. “I say I’m near New York.” Emphasis on the near. One of his more recent designs is a cap with I need space. “Maybe inspired by Wesleyan?” he chuckles. “I don’t know.”
As we get up to leave Usdan I ask the freshman what his plans are for the night. “I’m staying in. I have a midterm for Russian and Soviet History.” But no worries, he’ll be in New York for fall break. And the Butts aren’t too bad anyway.